From the Monkey Bars

From the Monkey Bars

It’s hard to believe I won’t be everything someday. That I don’t get to work my way through all the levels, save, come back, try again. I think, okay, I’ll work on my confidence. It takes years, decades. It’s not that I expect to ever become a stage performer but, yes, I am singing in the bathroom. Yes, I am turning the speaker on my laptop up louder so that I too can sing louder, hit some notes. Yes, I am still cupping my hand over my ear and around to my mouth, so that I can hear my own voice from a place slightly other, be my own approximate recording studio. Sometimes I perform a posture that a model might perform, a flick of the neck or a kind of half-twirl. It’s not that I expect to ever become a model but, yes, I do look at the shape of my bottom in a pair of tight trousers and kick my heel up to my thigh. Sometimes when I’m caught off-guard — reflective surfaces: rebooting computer screens, toilet-roll holders, the sides of cars — I see myself as I really might be: old and wide. A hollowness to the cheekbones, a droop to the jaw, a shadow by the eyes. Life is actually a bypass, rows of speeding traffic storming by. But because the centre is always the same distance from the ring-road, you don’t notice the future die. And when I’m playing on the park at midnight, climbing the nets and swinging from the monkey bars, it’s not that I think everything is still before me, but that seems to be the only way one can go.

Lydia Unsworth is the author of two collections of poetry: Certain Manoeuvres (Knives Fork & Spoons, 2018) and Nostalgia for Bodies (Erbacce, 2018). Winner of the 2018 Erbacce Poetry Prize, she has also had work published in various places including Ambit, Pank, KillAuthor, Tears in the Fence, Banshee Lit, and Sentence: Journal of Prose Poetics. Based in Manchester/Amsterdam.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *