Madeline McGovern




Set yourself adrift upon the world. Lose all sense of belonging. Lose all sense of the familiar. Let it become a feeling tapping at your shoulder, asking oh— what is it you have forgotten?

I don’t know what but it is something I never really stumble across in these wide flat streets. Images springing out of the ground like a dream. I find that light falls different across the earth. The sky a different flavour. Do the clouds hang different too or is it just the way I walk with my head turned upwards?

So the curve of the earth changes the colour of the sky. So the length of the seasons changes the colour of the leaves. I don’t know any of the trees here except as stories.

And yet—

I know you. I’m catching faces that look like home or childhood or

My back feels empty. Have I forgotten my keys? It feels like I have forgotten my keys. Or I have left you somewhere around a corner, out of sight only briefly, you translucent image of a dead world?



People say you find yourself when you are alone but all I have discovered is that my sense of personhood has been scrubbed away. Characters flit in and out. If it signals anything it is that emotion and identity are temporary.

This is the kind of erasure we should seek. Searching inwards is burrowing inwards, is whittling, is reducing.

Searching outwards is the emptying of yourself into a landscape. Grey mornings and black nights and orange evenings.

Who am I who am I do I really need to care anymore?

When I have gone three weeks without being alone my mind keeps speaking in odd voices. Even in silence it chatters like birds, pecks like birds. I don’t know what they’re saying but I suppose I don’t mind the company.

Once, I get dressed in the dark and find the shadow of myself on the window. I’d forgotten I was grown this tall. Somehow time has slipped inside my eyes, creasing and stretching.



Living without reflection. What a way to be limitless!

We go out dancing and it is empty empty euphoria. I am not anyone I know. I am the hands and laughing faces of my friends. I am filled with light, I am become light, I am become undoing.

It is all a dream. It is all a dream.



So the old question haunts me. And I am?

Outwardly, nothing in particular. Inwardly, a silence like a yawn.

I expected existence to feel different but it doesn’t. Everything stays the same. Even when things change they stay the same. I walk down a street and it feels like a street. I want it to sometimes not feel like a street. I want to feel it more deeply, like art. I want emotions to be sudden and lifting. I want experiences to define me and change me. I want to never recognize the shifting face in the mirror. I want to grow up and move away from my childhood like I am carving a line in the mud. I want narratives to haunt me. I want to know the future. I want to know what kind of story I am in.

Madeline McGovern is a Classics and Literature student currently living in Wellington, New Zealand.
previous page     contents     next page


Post a Comment

<< Home