Untitled, Kilburn 2017

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

I can’t quite believe the quantity when I see it.

A lifetime’s supply? I ask, quavering just a little

at the thought of it.

Imagine,

never needing any, never again going without,

not even once,

not even a tiny bit.

It won’t spoil? I asked him, just making sure,

not wanting any to go to waste.

And he reassured me, no, never, not within our lifetimes.

I wondered then how they had done it:

what preservatives had made it – all of it 

– immortal.

The delivery man left,

and I stood there at the bottom of the steps,

thinking, how the hell am I going to get all of this inside?

So, knowing that I was taking on a stupid challenge,

I started bringing it in.

My arms full to bursting,

anxiety gnawing at my insides,

crushing a finger between the first and second boxes

and in a bad mood for the rest of the week because of it,

a bench-press in cardboard and mercifully secure duct tape.

When I finally got the last one up the steps

(by this point very tired and sweaty)

I didn’t feel like going in,

so I sat there,

down on the floor among my boxes,

boxes and boxes, my lifetime’s supply.

It was starting to get dark

and the street light above my head had broken,

but I stayed there anyway,

getting a little bit cold but not enough to go in.

I wrapped my arms around my knees

to look up at the purpling sky

and wait.

A man, passing, paused, gazing with frank curiosity

at the neatly labelled packages

surrounding me in the doorway, and at me,

surrounded there, by them.

What are you going to do with it? he asked,

and I said, it’s a lifetime’s supply.

He shook his head: that’s a lot, you know, and paced on,

followed at some distance by a small, hassled-looking dog.

I sat there for a while longer

before the foxes down the street started screaming

and I heard myself say aloud, I get the message,

and so I started the arduous process of dragging each box

down the black-and-white tiled hall and into the kitchen,

scuffed edges of the cardboard squeaking against the tiling

and badgering the skirting board when my backwards-bent over trudging

took me a little too far to the left, or right.

And eventually,

after what felt like hours but was really probably more like eight minutes,

I dragged the last box in, and pushed it into the tall utility cupboard with all the rest,

and shut the door, and I didn’t have to look at the bloody things any longer,

my lifetime’s supply which had certainly taken up my evening,

and I sat down at the table feeling a chill sweat rise beneath my top,

and I looked at the vinyl coasters with the tube map on them that my landlord had left here,

maybe by accident,

and I considered my lifetime’s supply,

and I thought to myself,

how fucking long do they think I’m going to live?



By M I A I

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