The Ice King – 6: The Core

Into the core I dissolve. I remember The Ice King, he lingers. In my body. In my senses. In my mind. In my nature. In my idiom. In my eyes. In my aptitudes. I was never like The Ice King at all yet I am he he is me, was that unavoidable? Down at the core of the centre of the stem of the flow of the pulse there is no movement, no stillness, no anger no pain. No cold and no ice and no view and no argument, no perspective. There is liquid lava only. The core is the place at which everything starts and everything comes together and everything ceases to be, and everything is alive but the heat melts molecules and causes nuclear fusions: it’s as close as we get to the sun. The source. The energy.

As I come up for air I realise to my joy I’m still breathing. In, breathing out. Im Atemholen sind zweierlei Gnaden. I remember things I never knew were instilled in me, but they, like The Ice King, remain, they are rooted, they grow. I grow. I grow out of the core and through the pole, and I form into something almost human. I laugh inside. Not happy, relieved. The fact alone that there is a core. That there is a pole. That there is a word. That there is a thought. That there is a kiss. That there is a chamber. That there is ice, that there is a king. That the king rules me because I want him to only. He has my permission. I am his subject, he is my servant. We get on swimmingly. Like happy spermatozoa we float in the semen of our need towards the egg of our imagination, flagella wagging, willing us on to imminent fertilisation. Often we fail. But we are not unique, we are two among millions and the consciousness from which we have squirted is generous, patient. There is more. There is plenty. We are not alone. We are not lost. We are not meaningless. We are not wasted.

Up through the saltwater I burst, slithery wet and elated. If this is living I’ll have me some more of it, yes. The Ice King, serene now, regal, mischievous, hot, smiles at me knowingly. He knows me better than I care to admit, but I care not. I have him in my mind and he has me in his gonads. Together we’re strong. Let this be our universe. The force that holds us together may yet tear us apart, but for now there is only potential.

Strengthened, revived, I emerge. The Ice King walks with me now, as I glide. I am The Ice King, I am the snowflake, I am The Snowflake Collector, the wonder and George. The innocence lost and found. The anguish, the great satisfaction. The invention. The story. I walk on an empty plane that extends into all directions without end. Absence of colour surrounds me. I have conquered my fear. Not lost it, not abandoned it, no: embraced it, loved it, wrestled it, made it my own. I am the master of that I create. I am god.

I breathe in, I breathe out. I breathe in, I breathe out. The swirls of air from my mouth form undulations of flowers whose pollen disperse and populate the void. It is a paradise. It is rich. It is the land of beauty, abundance. This is where I belong; this is home.

The Ice King – 2: The Kiss

The Ice King doesn’t speak and I don’t ask; the questions are too many, too small; too trivial by comparison. I feel my body tremble, not with fear, not with cold; with unfamiliarity? I look him in the eyes and their glint reassures me: I want his power to be benign, if absolute. As I take off my heavy boots and both pairs of socks, I expect the ice under my feet to sting or to burn me, but with my eyes on him still and his gaze still steady on me there is only the glow that expands from inside my spine.

I take a step towards him and his presence feels no longer silent, it hums, or so my mind makes me believe, in truth he lies still and alert and my breathing is no longer shallow: I want to melt into him, meld with him, and as I step closer he sits up just enough to extend his hand and bring me into his orbit.

Now the colours, the touch, the sensations, the heat from within the cold from without: this surface I lie on is as hard as polished marble, this skin that I breathe is softer than ermine but his grip and his hold and his motion are firm, no longer can I tell what am I and what he, my focus is gone, the ice and The Ice King, the light and the scent are all one; I dissolve into it into him into the fire of him in me, into the ice that is no longer chill but a mould of clean edges that envelop us like multiple layers of soothing gauze, like everything ever imagined but more, and more real, like losing myself, my thought and my fear, like everything ever felt but not known, like owning the universe through being owned, desiring only being desired, like being The Ice King through being his, not wanting not pining not longing not hoping not dreading not doing not acting not willing not giving not taking not talking not buying not selling not looking forward not thinking back not imagining and not dreaming. Being and ceasing to be all at once in the now and forever.

The Now. The Forever. We breathe. We hold on to each other. I think I smile but I can’t be sure. He tilts his head back and exhales. I feel his breath on my neck and bury my face in his shoulder. The light is orange and blue and a little bit purple too, and we are embedded in the ice that feels now as if it has melted and made a pool of clear water that seems to flow warm, although this may just be the pulse in my temple and the beat of his heart and the tender embrace of his arms and the comfort, the comfort of him.

We lie thus for hours or so it seems as I drift in and out of awareness and The Ice King is deep in my mind, quiet and quite majestic. I know I can’t stay here but nor can I leave. I bathe in the silence but words are bubbling inside me. I want for nothing now, but I wonder how deep, how old, how immaterial the ice is. I lift my head to look at his face, in repose. His lips are not of this world. I hesitate. I pause. I cannot ask permission. I cannot resist. I kiss him.

29 Shakespearean Lunch No 3

The first three Shakespearean lunches take place at almost exactly monthly intervals in April, May and June. The first two more or less set the tone, but I’m still not entirely prepared for the third.

The first one happens at a beautiful Spanish Tapas place just by the entrance to Borough Market. It is – like all of the ones numbered one through three – scheduled for about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, starting at one, but I don’t remember leaving before four, maybe four thirty. Still, there is much to talk about writing, crowdfunding, and, of course, Shakespeare – and so my stupendous Writer Friend and I take our time and order another bottle of wine, but eventually we decide to have done, mainly really because the place, beautiful as it is, isn’t entirely cheap and both of us are effectively skint.

For the second one, the tapas place is full up and it’s raining off and on, so we head a few doors into the market to a really nice fish place which is all covered in glass and lends a view onto Southwark Cathedral. Much as on the first occasion, we talk about writing, a little less about crowdfunding, a little more about adventures with agents, and about Shakespeare, a lot. I have another drink to go to that evening, so reluctantly, somewhat painfully, I drag myself away shortly after six.

For our third Shakespearean Lunch we are fortunate in that a little outside table is available back at the tapas place on the corner and my excellent Writer Friend is already parked there by the time I arrive. I have written a play about Shakespeare, and he is researching a story about Shakespeare’s brother Edmund, so our conversation obviously focuses very much on Shakespeare. Not having strictly learnt my lessons from our lunches one and two, I have once again somewhat brazenly booked another drink on the South Bank at seven, but with a friend who has stood me up so many times and has so frequently been so unreliable that I think not too much of it when, around about seven, we just really have nowhere near exhausted our topic and order another bottle of wine.

At around this time, our luncheon turns epic. There is a fine line between an ordinary writerly lunch, which can easily last five or six hours, and a lunch that turns into something memorable, noteworthy. This is approximately the point at which that happens, because at approximately this point we have, between the two of us, had between four and five bottles of wine and the topic of conversation is likely to have drifted off somewhat. I don’t remember onto what. I am pretty certain my formidable Writer Friend doesn’t either, though I haven’t asked him. I feel somewhat reluctant to ask him what he remembers of our Third Shakespearean Lunch, because I would not for one moment wish to embarrass him or make him feel uncomfortable. Not that there really is any reason for either of us to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable, save for the fact that we first pay our bill at five thirty but when we finally say goodnight to each other some time close to eleven another bill for wine has been clocked up and paid for and I have given up any attempt at catching up with my other friend, two or three increasingly incoherent text messages notwithstanding.

But there’s also a bottle of wine unaccounted for. At some point after the second bill we must have decided to have just one more and our brains at that late stage of our lunch are no longer capable of placing paying for it into the category ‘things to do before leaving’. It’s not as if we were doing a runner. When I phone the restaurant the next day, on my first attempt there is nobody there to take payment for the bottle, but they say they will phone me back. When they don’t phone me back I try again, and this time round a Maître’d who doesn’t seem in a particularly appreciative mood recalls: yes, you paid for the first ones and then you kept hugging the guy and then you were gone. He is still for some reason unable to take payment but promises to phone me back. For a second time, nobody phones me, so I accept that last bottle as a drink on the house and consider the matter dealt with: thank you, it was much appreciated.

When he says: ‘you were hugging the guy,’ he is, I think, being diplomatic. Or is the term euphemistic. I am fairly certain that by the time we finally staggered to our feet we were effectively snogging. This is slightly unusual and also unexpected behaviour from both of us because we’re just mates. Also, my affectionate Writer Friend as far as I know has never yet been gay. Then again, it doesn’t really matter whether or not anyone is and I don’t hold with the labels in the first place and so I really don’t have any concerns about this. Still, the image that I couldn’t have seen but that is now ingrained in my imagination cheers me: the two of us, men in our, erm, no longer quite forties, winding up our lunch at a Spanish Tapas place in Borough, cuddling and kissing with really, by that time, not a care in the world and still so much to talk about for, I would hope, many Shakespearean lunches to come, come spring again…

{Meander}

The strident thrust of a century recently launched and with great fanfare too. Millennium. Nobody talks about that, no more. A comma makes all the difference. There are aeroplanes flying overhead there are cars on the road there are people in the street about town. Forward motion, always. It likes me not; not always, not now. I long to ease. Not from now on, just for right now. Much needs doing but it’s good to do nothing, once in a while; just to float. Relent to slow the flow of time. Be. Not go anywhere. At all. Except you always do, don’t you. You can sit in a spot for eternity and when eternity is over you will have moved. Away from the centre, around the star, on your planet’s axis, many times. I said it was disconcerting too, but comforting, nonetheless. And it is. Then a kiss.