One morning he discovered time. Hairs had started to grow through ‘The Sound and the Fury’ on his shoulder. He had reached that point where available space had expired. His business shirt was buttoned at the collar and the wrists. He always wore socks and trousers. Only he and the tattooists, Charlie and Veronica, knew the extent of his skin calligraphy. The ink guns had been re designed for the work, as the years passed.
When his mother died, they planted a Grevillia Longistyla on her ashes. Its lineate leaves danced like pencils projected across the bedroom wall. The magenta flowers christened, the cream over the reaching curls opened like hearts. Her voice waved with them, and he could still hear her reading, laughing, crying, spelling, as the honeyeaters wobbled upside down, beaks in. The titles bookmarked the years of his life.
His boss at the Shire office wore pearls, but long ago he noticed the small bearded iris in bloom on the outside of her neck, just before the nape of her hair. He still slept on the back veranda his father had closed in for him, as the books increased to cocoon the house, spilling language, drafting lives out of the wings of pages. His father died in a room full of old Russians, French, existentialists, and abridged histories.
At his favourite coffee shop, an Edwardian house, where a large room contained second hand books for sale, chairs and tables for reading, they looked, but never asked, when a loosened letter occasionally became visible. In front of the room, to the right as you entered the building, was a large upturned door on boxes, for sharing and swapping organic vegetables. In distraction, Porter’s ‘Akhenaten’ had been left there.
He became redacted, shaving small patches. [Monkey][Expectations][Crumples], [Mockingbird][Moby][Road], [Heart][Under][Farm], new titles spread across his chest, legs, torso. He was thinking more and more in purple, a mauve disturbance, not matte or gloss, but a tip toe. He undid the top button, revealing to very close inspection, a vertical F over A of Fahrenheit. Next week he would roll up his sleeves.
James Walton is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. His fourth collection of poetry, 'Abandoned Soliloquies' is about to be published.