A Piece by Avital Carno: A Letter to You Sleeping

The sky is pink through the window, but the geckos are still asleep on the whitewash. In the half-light, I can barely see the whisper bruises of your hungry fingers on my thigh.

I watch the Midas light brush against your ribs. Even asleep you’re so much bigger than me. More solid, more important, more real. I’m just a dreamer, I amuse you – a fragile little thing, so whimsical, your faerie-child. Naked I come to you bearing baskets of flowers and poems and socialist dreams – you tolerate my paraphernalia because it’s sweet. I speak to you in words and you hear white noise like music, like birdsong, so you tune in and out, you smile. Your hand on the small of my back – you look after me – enough now.

Go fuck yourself. I love you.

We live differently. Things are straightforward for you – God is cultural, pain is physical, food tastes good.

Do you know – sometimes at night I listen to music and I dip my hand in and out of the shadows made by the half-opened blinds – purple squares on a blued wall – looking at my moving fingers moving in and out of the shadows and the darkness and the sparks of light from dancing headlights of racing cars, shooting stars – sometimes at night I listen to music with headphones in very loudly in the pool of lamp-starred sleeping stillness and I remember that I’m alive.

Songs taste of smells to me. Smells can make me cry and sometimes summer days hurt – why? Because the bee’s wings are winged with light? I don’t know. That’s my catchphrase. But you, you always know. God will save us. One day I will be rich. I love you. You know, you know. To me you are solidity. I am made of glass.

Your thin lips are pressed shut so I give you a voice, I paint your sleeping words that you never say until I hear you, your church bells, their righteous seduction. Lie back now, lie back, into this space I’ve carved for you. It’s comfortable, and trust me, darling, you can breathe. It’s all in your head. I’ll buy you some oxygen.

I’m a fragile little thing, yes, it’s true, I am made of glass. But somehow I don’t break.

I am made of glass and glass is made with fire.

I have sung my soul into steel.

Why do you want me in a box, when what you love in me is that I’m free?

If you’re so strong, why do I scare you?

What are you so afraid of? What do you think that I can do? There is no new apple for you to eat.

You’ve locked me up for at least a thousand years.

In the marketplace of the tea-rooms, the feasting-halls, the painted caves, my price is based on virginity, and yet you call my abstinence a crime. I enchant you, I’m beautiful, I frighten you, I’m a whore.

My other, my love, what are you so afraid of? Why do you keep me in chains?

And all I can think is if I scare you so much, I must be something incredible.


Collage by Emily Godbold.


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