under there, somewhere

image for under there, somewhere text over pastel and charcoal on paper

under there, somewhere : Andy Harrod

under there, somewhere originally appeared at Burning House Press. It expresses simultaneously the imploding and exploding of being lost in the childless grief. It captures the unseen and the unspoken.

that is fragmenting.

He hears  the father’s voice first, a cracked whip across his senses, an involuntary flinch. He lifts the arm, the song begins again. It doesn’t stop the  girl  from appearing, flopped to the floor crying. Pastel dust sticks  . He remembers scurrying away from the aisle, he didn’t belong there. He’s not one of them, how could he intervene?  Eyelids flutter.  Alone,  alone. Five letters etched. Beat away these colours.

Not    this.    He slips the record from its sleeve. He turns up the volume. He carefully places the needle.  She sings   . The words fall from the score. He lifts    the arm. Repeat, repeat. He mouths ‘I belong  only to ghosts’. He can’t shake     that memory,   just out of grasp; each month he visualised pulling him, pulling her, in. It did no good. He mouths ‘I belong  only to ghosts’. She nestles next to him, he places his head on her shoulder.               

Exiled     .

connection severed.  A language   unknown, fills the empty space. Each imagining what they will never have. He visualises himself screaming into their faces, ‘Imagine what  you  can’t’. He knows they won’t even meet him quarter-way. Charcoal dust he sprinkles. A silence of torture   agreed. His hands blackened, but theirs  clean, smelling of baby wipes .

Eyelids   flutter.   ‘How can such sorrow come from such love?’ he repeats   to himself, as he strums   droning chords to anesthetise the pain. Friendships stretch    and                  snap. Family mourn and wordless. Colleagues only see the masks sealed  by teardrops. ‘Beat away  my, beat away  our (in)visible grief,’ he pleads.  They turn their backs. They turn their backs.

They are looking now. The electrified noise rush, turning in. His fists hammer against his thighs.  But they are not seeing.  Charcoal smudges    he wears like warpaint. ‘You wear that dress    like a fucking   tattoo ,’ he snarls. Small wheels are pushed away by bumps. He picks himself up, adjusting his face to suit their needs. ‘You might as  well spit at me in disgust.’                                                                            He takes her hand. ‘For I dare intrude    on your happy ever after.’ A fading pastel rainbow, they lace together their fingers.

Feedback echoes into white noise. Eyelids flutter. ‘I’m under there,      somewhere,      ’

he whispers.

The background to the (In)visible childlessness logo comes from this piece.