The Parchment Skin by Ágnes Lehóczky

(for a friendship)

I mean, to remember is like carving coffins out of cedars and
graffitiing a simple word all over the façade. Learning
reiterations by heart. Against traps of falling towards
forgetfulness. Coffin texts engraved about the detours of the
forgotten. The loss of the sun. Eyelids. Tattooed with
instructions. Written vertically, towards an idle present. They
spiral. Spiralling nowhere like odd church towers which, you
say, look unfinished like the past. Beheaded here-and-nows.
Colossal owls. White-washed lighthouses. Minding town and
sea. Spotting caravans of cargo ships inching along the
midsummer horizon. Is this journey ever going to end?
Between now and then, to and fro in this notebook? Back and
forth between these visitations. We are lost between the
length and height, width and breadth of remembering.
Enveloped. Between layers of shadows. Have you noticed
the adjournment of the years ahead? Savouring the milky
hour from bottomless mugs. Will we remember how we
drank time? Have you ever been in this underground garden
before? Assembling for an early morning labyrinthine
breakfast? A life-long preparation. Iterations. Don’t forget
the teaspoon. The porcelain. Slurping from dead wells.
Counting the clock. Counting cocooned bugs. Matter-of-fact
bugs, as long as empty cases count. They count. We spot a
dozen of them. We spot the impromptuness with which we
spot them. The impromptuness with which we forget them.
You say, the absence of memories is a little bit like dying. Or
dying for the second time. That’s why. Let’s try and graffiti
coffins carved out of cedars. You do mine. Here, on my dry
skin. Where is the dragonfly? Its disposed skin stuck to the
reed. How can nothing hold on; after all? With antennae,
with empty gloves. Abandoned gravitation. The skin of
twenty odd years. The cocoon of the sepia city in waiting. A
light yellow home. Cities don’t leave, they stay. They don’t.
They travel in sunburnt parchments. In sand grains. In the
vertigo of the sea. In the shell of the crab crawling to and fro.
In your hand crawling to and fro. Rotating. The way you
drag its empty body around carving circles in the sand. The
resemblance dizzies me. The likeness between the cocoon
and the body that is gone. The similarity between the live and
the dead. Importunate sea gulls in the North wind. Fishing in
the air. Circulating above us. They come almost too close to
my face, as if they were, in fact, fishing for faces, fishing for
hair, fishing for skin. Fishing for shadows and for ghosts. For
holes in pebbles. Impromptu absences washed out by the
tide, sucked back into no-time. Where will we have come
from, not now, but by then? Before the twenty odd years. Do
you remember the swimming pools at home? Will they
always be there? Which one shall we go to? I warned you not
to drown. The simultaneous shivering and sweating. The old
spectres of pubs, wingless, hunched. What do we do with
these non-events of life? The ‘all is well’, the way you shrug
your shoulders. The way I shrug mine. The way grandfather
used to. At home. But not a matter-of-fact home. Unless the
earth counts. It counts. The trains. The maladroit crawling of
a daddy-long-legs on a train window. The resistance of the
wind. Its cohesive hold. Then how softly and gently off it
goes, back to the time of departure. The water spiders, like
split seconds in the garden of memorilessness. The milky
coffee and the huge mugs. We are drinking time. The frogs
in the pond as if they were hours crawling between us and
the unknown on a liquefied never-will-be-day. The varied
skin patterns. We count them. The poisonous bluebells. The
bees drowning in their lilac embrace. Let go. Of the twenty
odd years. The summer is nearly over. The sweltering early
autumns, the yellow chestnut trees. The autumn crows. The
home crows. How defencelessly bizarre they are.
Defencelessly ugly. The crow families at home. The crow
nests at home, the have-you-seen-one questions. The crisp
North wind here. Goosebumps of memories: I told you,
you’ll be freezing. Here is my woolly jumper. Put it on. My


Date: 2013

By: Ágnes Lehóczky (1976- )


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