Good day to you all. Today’s offering is called ‘On waking a lion’. I have been reading a lot of different styles of prose recently and this piece is an experiment in voice. My most recent reads have been Ali Smith’s How to be Both, Catherine Hall’s The Repercussions, Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, Virginia Woolf’s The Waves and Jenny Offill’s Department of Speculation. I don’t know what’s been affecting me where but I have let all sorts go in this piece, including the rules of grammar and barriers between species.
Here it is.
On waking a lion
Slept long. Open eyes. Grey dawn. World come sharp-close. Noise come roar-roar. Big change. Big change now. Close eyes. Hope. Voice come. You. Same you. Know me.
What? What is it you need?
Open mouth, breath smell. Iron-hot. Touch mouth. Hand gone. Paw now. Pierce-tips coming out. You not see. Roll paw tight. Speak I words, come deep. Broken heavy pot dropped-deep. Tell I dream-wish. Dream-wish came in dark.
Need to run I. Cross cliff. Headland. Island cold. Wet cold. Wind whip. Whip mane. Mane in eyes.
Slow nod, head heavy now.
Yes. Leap I gorse hedge. Splash pad-paw. Peat bog dark-suck. Run I to house. Square window-eye house. Red-eye, sunset-eye house.
Are you a horse?
Rrrrr! No horse. Paw! Blood! Mouth all muzzle-blood. Big cat.
Have I water eye on pillow. Pull words up more for you.
Woman open door. Fire inside. Castle. Stone. Red rug, sit I. Look. All gold. Warm.
You said it was a house!
Is she kind?
She kind, I… Not know I, if I… She dress. Shine-ivory like elephant tusk. Tight.
Touch you I, with paw on body. Feel you in heart.
What do you do, Lion?
Stand I up high. Like big man-legs. Very tall. Lift she up. Paws round. Lift, carry.
Where are you taking her?
Castle, tower. Up. Air-room, wind howl. Outside, in sea, water hills, ship gone. Smash rocks. She brave. Not scared, woman. Say, ‘I not go, Lion. I not go anyway’. Growl-purr I. Whiskers neck. Snuzzle.
You laugh. Bare you small teeth.
Not snuzzle! There’s no such thing. Nuzzle!
Fix eye you.
Snuzzle! You not there! Snuzzle I neck. Woman. She fingers in mane. Thick. Rub. Mane hot inside. Wool, like wet… greasy. Smell like leaves under tree, gone earthy. Gone brown. Roll she onto bed.
Roll she onto bed I. Broad. Broad back. Smooth fur. Rope under. Rope move under in shoulders. Hold I woman. Tight. Little knives come.
Lift paw to white window. Show you pierce-tips against sky. Gasp you, catch lost air.
Press woman dress, there. Beads come, red. Dark. Lick I them. Woman shout.
You ruined her dress! You hurt her!
Not I hurt she! Lion not care anyway. She kick Lion. On floor. Wait I, paws on face.
Are you ashamed, Lion?
Not. Not shamed. She noise soon. Ruffle-swish. Dress gone. Pull lion back. Lion me. Me,lion-smoke, paw-tongue, fur-pad. Hold woman.
Water eye on pillow more. You push face into mane. Touch Lion, me-Lion, like explorer.
© Allie Rogers, 2014