Points of Articulation


Jamie Woods


You threw away all of my shoes: my trainers, my pumps, my party heels and my ankle boots; my plimsolls, my work shoes, and my strappy Sunday-bests. You replaced them with a heel of specific sensibility, an instep of manufactured modesty, a sole of arch-functionality, and a stitching of conservative stability. I like my new shoes: they are my signature, my uniform, my own considered style. I wear them for you, because you don’t want me to fall into difficulty, or to run at the mouth, or to trip over my words, or to slip with my tongue: I wear them to show that you care.

You helped me sell my accoutrements and ornaments in an internet auction; I had no further need for them, not now that I had you. You took torn and battered LPs, coffee-stained paperbacks, figurines pock-marked with cigarette burns, and a few DVDs in near-mint condition; and you packaged them up in stiff cardboard and bubble-wrap and sent them away to the highest bidder. You said that one night, while I was sleeping, someone broke into our house and stole the fuses from the stereo and the television, and so you fitted bars on the windows and doors to stop it ever happening again. You had a locksmith come out to change the lock on the front-door; but he seemed to be in a rush and only left you the one key, which you obviously need more than I do.

I felt such gratitude when you removed my skeleton under local anaesthetic.  I read fairytales from your tattered childhood compendium while you inserted stainless-steel rods in the tunnels where my bones used to be. I lay still like a petrified forest as you lacquered my skin with a protective all-weather plasticated glaze. You removed my muscles, my tendons, and my soft tissue. You replaced them with elastic, with string, with lamb’s wool, and with nothing at all. I can have points of articulation at the knee, at the waist, at the shoulder, at the neck, at your request, your behest. You fused my fingers, my wrists, my feet, my ankles; all in positions of maximum utility, limited poseability. Now when I fall down the stairs, you say; now when I walk into doors, you say; now when I slip in the kitchen, you say: I will remain unharmed and unblemished and un-cracked, and for this I should be grateful.

When we met you said that I was a rough blood-diamond: you needed to chisel hard at my cheekbones and hammer away on my thighs. You fed me bruised fruit and broken biscuits; you read to me pamphlets on Victorian etiquette. But you struck too hard, too fast, demolishing the structure, slivers and splinters pointedly scattered. With your finest tweezers and a tube of superglue that you’d kept refrigerated to ensure maximum adhesion, you held and you stuck and you pinched and you dabbed and you applied just the right amount of pressure to secure permanent bonding.

My parents died in a car-crash, you tell me, along with my brother, on the A509, just outside Milton Keynes. A distant relative, an uncle I’d not heard mentioned before, had called with the news, while I was having one of my special baths that you’d run for me. You hadn’t wanted to disturb me, and then it never seemed the right time to mention it, and I wasn’t to contact this uncle, he didn’t want me to call him as it was all too painful. You bought flowers for me, for missing the funeral, and I agreed that yes, they would look nicer in your study. You’re all I’ve got left, I told you: I’m all you need, you reply, you retrain. I am all yours, I tell you, impassioned: but you already knew this, you say, as you meticulously position me on your bed.

You know that I will do anything for you, my love; and you do everything to me. And now my eyes only open when I stand up, and you leave me lying down.