It’s back, settling in like an old friend, so even though I’m angry and scared I somehow want to embrace it. Does that make me a narcissist? A romantic? Hey you- it’s been a long time.
Seven years, I’m softer now. I will sink into my bed more deeply. Dash will have to flip the mattress every couple of weeks. I will sink more readily. Illness replies: I have missed the boundaries of your body.
More and more my dog hides under our bed, afraid of the weather. It’s either old age or climate change. He takes pills to counter one of them.
Today I read the beginning of someone else’s story: The disease has been in remission seven years. I see no point in lying to you, this is all true. A good story is a body with so many elements working together. I look out the window and the wind has stopped. But then it blows again, stronger.
The wind has severed limbs from trees, driven me mad for three days. It might be the cause of all of this, sharp noise spinning me out, the barometric pressure, the world devouring itself and the build-up of its Earth-belch, like when a hanger falls to the ground, my son hits a high note, when I flush the toilet, plastic crinkling, a door lock clicking, the sound of my own voice when I speak.
My acupuncturist needled me in my bed today, showed me where to press on the bottom of my feet to get rid of fear – fear feeds the illness. I’m frightened if I touch it too much and stop being afraid I’ll lose the desire to write – fear feeds the writing.
I am sheltered on a couch in my brick box office, surrounded by poetry and memoir, books about trauma, books about illness, four books on the top shelf about the Rolling Stones, which I’ll begin to read as the band members die off, one by one. Or when my father does.
I always think about my parents when it comes back. Illness reminds me I’m a daughter.
Cicero says that a room without books is like a body without a soul. It’s quiet out here, away from the house and the people inside it who only want what’s best for me. The wind’s picked up again. There’s a zombie cyclone over Queensland. New South Wales is flooded. I read about a dust storm there too. My illness has come back with a malice I haven’t known for seven years. I need to be alone.
Each time I cry today I am supremely alone.
Everything I write today is mine alone.
In America, my brother and his family are loved-up, snowed-in. People there, used to snow, cannot believe the snow. They take selfies of themselves in it, smiling. Thousands have been left without power. Three people have died.
When the attack comes it will be a violent storm. I am preparing for it. I am trying to prepare for it. It’s annoying because I cannot prepare.
* ‘The disease has been in remission seven years’ from Sarah Manguso’s The Two Kinds of Decay
Heather Taylor-Johnson is a novelist, poet and editor. In 2018 she was the Writer in Residence at the JM Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide, where she is now an Adjunct Research Fellow.