The blank page is my dragon. It’s my wall, my cave. But as soon as the first words hit the screen in a splatter of pixels, it becomes vanquish-able. It becomes something, a place where I can crack open my chest and bleed. So here we go.
I keep words stuffed inside my body; I imagine them in tight little capillaries, adjectives coalescing like cholesterol, holding my throat hostage. How many sounds, sighs and syllables have I choked back, times where I’ve felt frenetic with the urge to howl truths that hurt and wound?
I imagine letters and phrases bunching into physical fibres, aching to stretch, to grow warm and limber, to be shared, to fall wetly from my tongue, wet like sex is wet, to share without inhibitions, to not need to get married to please my Catholic father before I try to write the erotic sections of my novel, to be free to fantasise about – gasp.
Some sentences are too long. They choke on their own size, their own grandeur. I like the bi-pedal sentence, the one I splice unapologetically with commas, cleaving in both senses the sense I try to make. That one was tri-pedal. Singular. Nabokov rhythms that still echo in the folds of my soft palate.
To write with compassion feels like it’s beyond me. I’m good at snacks and beer and video games and lots of whisky, lots of wine. I’m good at drinking the words I should be cutting out of my own skin, good at swallowing, chewing, masticating the meanings, manipulating life and language. My internal dialogue runs like a clichéd fairy tale, a pretty story that hums along to the drum of living.
I fear I am barren. No desires left in me to slake. Every time I hit the backspace bar, every time I carefully erase the words I type, painstakingly, I feel I make an absence in the world. I rub out the possibility and whatever would have occupied that space just isn't there any more.
My lust disappeared like that, folded in on itself, so small like origami lily petals because I quashed my climax in the face of everything else. I raised my concepts on Dorling Kindersley textbooks and sit here with a wry smile trying to measure the damage done with those paradoxical words to someone who’d really like to enjoy sex, except it fucking hurts.
I wonder, often, what I’d be like without my Catholic upbringing, my apathy for the clitoris, my confusion over the Church and my paradigmatically opposed constructs of faith and religion and feminism and fannies and freedom and confusion about a created God. Trying to reach a conclusion is so tiring; it’s exhausting to consider the ramifications of my spirituality and my sex, the hollow orgasm and the feeling of failed frustration.
To accuse my upbringing of snatching my spiritual, sexual self away from me is so unpleasant, so sensationalist that I draw back from the statement. Draw back from that conclusion. I can see too easily how I could accuse the world of raping my innocent ideas about fulfilment, that abuse through ideology is infinitely more pervasive that what the patriarchy does to our society and strangely, that the man I respect above all others is diametrically opposed to me on this one issue. But that doesn't make it less true.
That my dad talks degrading circles around me and mine: my ideas of what the world could be with women – women who don’t fear speaking out in between the pews and paving slabs of the Vatican makes me feel more impotent than anything. That he can’t stand to lose the argument and maybe, just maybe, he could hold off his sense of righteousness to look from my divinely feminine perspective to see that the model I am posed with, there, between the stained glass windows and offerings of roses, is defined by her relationship with other men. When do I get to self-define, dad?
I need women who can stand on street corners and not feel they need to flip the bird to the men who (leer, ogle – I haven’t found a word that’s strong enough to bear the feeling it needs to carry) stare at them – to remind others that we are not objects, that feminism is equality, that the Church needs to teach that sex isn't bad and it could be so beautiful and the only reason I know that is because of this piece of paper, because of the lines and strokes and the gift of creating something so sweet with my hands that I cannot understand why the rest of my body will not follow.
Is this page ever a therapist? Or is it just a mirror, between myself and my ideas, holding up a reflection I can’t fathom the identity of, let alone link to. In truth, I fear the dark shadows I feel sloshing under the shell I carefully maintain and polish and present to the surface. Writing makes them boil. Tempestuous, I perceive myself, my blackest inner corners and the worst of my lusts, the shadows that compel me to do things I’d rather not, just to check if kissing can still feel like I think it should. And though I perceive it, I don’t understand it; can’t control it, can’t get off with anything except myself.
But that particular shot of whisky always follows with a shot of guilt, slicking the inside of my oesophagus. Makes my fingers tingle and things tighten deep in my stomach and my knees tremble. It never seems to come easy, this particular sin. That’s the problem though: neither do I.
Somewhere along the lines, crazy-hot-mess sex got lost and there’s no psalm that exalts a good, hard fucking at three in the morning, because the church of the womb and woman and the Church don’t seem to coexist at all. The kisses I currently receive feel like salutes, a ritual that lost its magic a long time ago, like mass on Sunday morning.
There’s comfort in the heavy perfume of frankincense, in the hymns and the bent knees. Just like there’s comfort in the same short moans that seem to follow every kiss. But ritual becomes rut, the kiss becomes meaningless, the knees get bruised no matter which altar I worship at, except that of the Microsoft Word Document, the blank page, exorcising the dragon and the knight that are so similar I can’t separate the two any more.
It will be all right. The lips that swallow the words can learn to speak them again. The metaphors that tangle in my marrow can come undone again. The kiss can be a meeting of lips again, the organ can make my heart swell again, my God can come whisper in my ear again. For Word, by whom worlds were made, was in my lowly fingers laid.