by Christos Polydorou
I’ll begin with the names of flowers, white bryony, cinquefoil, enchanter’s night shade, foxglove, and then with a pair of craft scissors, and cut them out of the forests of the world and collage them to this page. I googled all these flowers, but naïve as I am, drawn to surfaces and reflections and light sources as I am I was at first drawn to the onomatopoeia of the words themselves, but was relieved that all these types of flowers turned out not to be types of flowers that are cut and sold, because they are too small, or too rare, or too deep in South Asia for them to be found, and between you and me this again makes me feel relieved, for those flowers, that they won’t be cut, and end up in vases.
Roses and lilies, on the other hand. Hydrangeas and birds of paradise and peonies. I’d cry for them, but I’d rather word them in, ink them out, and pointilate them back into focus, with gaps on either sides of them, for emphasis. Jasmine is multiflorous in these floating neighbourhoods, powdering its bride-dress petals across the wet streets, and into the hands, and across the eyes of children, but even so, when I reach my hand into the juice of its fragrance, I still regret it, pulling the jasmine out, killing it. My hands smell, and I am sneezing, but the flowers. The poor flowers, so pretty, yet so dead now. They begin to lose their power, their colours, shapes, and scent, and wilt, and wilt.
And wilt. Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be in love, a drive which I was told was biological, although what the difference between eating food and kissing lips and falling asleep and taking a piss and listening to music and writing words is to me is as granular as those jasmine petals, glued to the ground. It took me a while, to find the love I had always imagined, because I couldn’t quite extract all the jasmine petals in my eyes, courtesy of the Narcissus of my youth and the Pegasus of my childhood. Years. What was I doing while I was waiting? I was waiting. And it felt like I was waiting for Godot, except there was no tree, no stage, and definitely no Vladimir to my Estragon, or Estragon to my Vladimir. But what if, one day, Godot, actually showed up?
But that is not the play Samuel Beckett wrote, so we don’t have a ready script, so we are to exit stage left, as unreality assails us, once again. Until human voices wake us, and we jerk our bodies of fishnets to the surface, gasping for air.
But what if, one day, Godot, showed up? Godot did. It was in a moat. It was on a Sunday. It happened a year ago, in April. It was after the purest Easter. The lamb, the sweet breads, and the long tables. Jesus dies. The eggs. The cross. Jesus is resurrected. I deceived myself into believing it was all so deliciously coincidental, so impeccably timed and as resonant as a chamber piece, that when Godot came into my life and fell into my arms, I was deluded that Godot was the real thing.
Godot was all smoke and mirrors. Even so Godot shook me to the core. Godot’s kiss was poison. When we first kissed I felt my stomach turn, and it hasn’t unturned, since. I emptied, and all my bones floated to the surface. But Godot was crazy. Godot was young. Godot was unable to stop hurting me, but couldn’t leave me alone. I hated and loved Godot. I cried for Godot. I couldn’t write so much as a single word for Godot, it’s taken me so long, and I am not entirely sure I know what I am talking about, if I am clear, and I am making sense. I hope I am getting closer, though. It is so important to me, to everything and so to anyone, to do this, and to do this write.
Light. Romantic love’s true manure is bullshit. Godot shattered my heart, into tiny reticulate parts. It was rides in my cars and late night sloppy sandwiches and elliptical walks in the parks and parking lots and moats and within the walls of Nicosia and the churches named from saints and the mosques of the Imams and religion and patriarchy and the earthenware from which the mother is broken from and the salt from which the tears are sieved from and the elevator shafts and the bed. The bed.
The bed. Godot shared my bed three, maybe four times, and we never had sex. But I was in love. Godot loved me, but didn’t love me. Did Godot love me? But I was in love. Then Godot and I started screaming at each other. I thought I was going insane. Godot started smashing mobile phones, so I drove Godot away, I changed addresses. Godot tried to contact me again but by then my cheeks were filling in again and I was no longer resembling the stickman, so I didn’t answer.
But the worst of it, was not being able to write. Not being able to articulate words. Fainting. Wheezing. Deep sea sleeping. And for what?
Godot blew down my walls, tore away my floors. Of course I was in pain, but at the same time, I was stupid enough to feel blessed, that I had finally been chosen, by the hand of love. Romantic love’s true manure.
Godot was deported. We Skyped once, but what happened happened, and has scored itself deep into my marrow, like sowing needles, like fish hooks, like twisting darts, and even though it was amicable, and polite, everything had changed, nothing had stayed the same, and the past was over.
It’s been a year since I’ve fallen, and I am still falling. I am like a man who has been pushed out a plane without a parachute to an earth with no ground to tumble on.
The heart that falls in love is like a cut flower. I keep mine in the pages of an empty book, which I write and rewrite, over and over again, hoping that this time round I will get to our two flowers, and they will be so overexposed by my well-being and overwhelmed by my newfound happiness that they’ll completely disappear. The writing helps.
The art helps. This is what I want to fill my dead house with, with its dead walls, floors, furniture, with light, energy, and life. These things don’t just seem dead to me because I am sad, or was once sad. They are dead. Like the cut flowers. The broken hearts. The rattling of the caryatids.
Our pain? What are we to do with it? I tried drowning it in vodka. I tried starving it. I tried keeping it in the dark. What a fool. I was so young. I knew nothing about life, not to mention love. Art? I was a poseur. What does one do with bullshit? What Chris Ofili did with elephant dung?
There are no elephants in Cyprus, but there are mules, and the only poop I’ll pick up after is my black terrier’s, Betty’s, but that’s another story for another day, another life, another world, altogether. For now, I will collect all the flowers, all the devastatingly, dead flowers, and bury them in the earth, and wait at the most a week, for the shoots of the new flowers to come bursting out, because this is Cyprus, and the sun is always hot, and the soil is always good.