Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tracey Slaughter

This is an excerpt of the most wonderful writing. The first time I read this story I cried, and I gave up writing for a while cos I thought, if I can't write like this, I don't want to.

It's a perfect symbiosis of poetry and prose:

A Short Story by Tracey Slaughter

'I think of the policeman who had to take my son from me. I think now, as I thought then, this is the first time he’s picked up a child.
You could see it in his body, you could see where the knowledge was missing … those signals in the collarbone, the wrists of people who know how to pick up a child. He spent a long time kneeling in front of us, just looking at us. The other people in the room must have thought he was moved, he was giving us time. Perhaps he was, yes he was, I think, but even more than that he was solving a problem. He was studying our bodies trying to look for places we might come apart. He was examining my son’s legs, the neck that lay over my elbow, calculating the weight, the pressure, the words needed to break me from him.
It was a task, an assignment: to break us open where my bones held onto his bones, where my milk slipped over his ribs, where my hair & my breath & my fingernails kept asking his mouth to answer my singing.
To pick a child up out of that is no small act. What breaks milk, what breaks touch? He did it through pity.
He said, my sister’s pregnant, & then his breath was very quick & hooked because he thought he’d said the wrong thing.
But almost at once I answered him. I said, don’t tell her about this.
I remember silence. Then I remember looking at this man’s shirt & saying, I don’t want those buttons to scratch him. And he showed me how the silver buttons were on a ring which slid out through the pocket, & he held them down by the baby’s scalp where my hand was fixed through all his hair.
Can you hold them for me? he asked.
That was all I could do for him. I couldn’t move any further … just open my hand & let them fall in like stones.
We were a problem in gravity & he was the instrument that had to solve it. And I pitied him.'


Blogger Chris Never said...

it is truly, beautiful writing

5:51 PM  

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