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When this morning woke me I had no desire to move;
there was nothing that this day could bring I’d not already heard.
I could not imagine anything that would bring me happiness to see,
no experience was beckoning, and I was even tired of sleep.

I’d become a slave to rooms and tasks,
a machine for doing certain operations.
I work for other people; I maintain and fuel myself
in simple self-perpetuation, and really, I felt, did little else.

The mug upon the table I have filled too many times.
The books at bedside weigh too much to lift.
The painting on the wall that once enthralled
is dulled by long familiarity.
The wardrobe full of clothes awaits
but today I have no vanity.

These muggy days the mind’s machinery is a problem
too complex for solving from within.
Lethargy and melancholia have always got each others’ backs;
they keep me slow and anxious, too tired to relax.

It takes a lucky accident to wake me,
a barely-conscious summoning of what my kind has always known,
a magic known by ancient folk, conveyed now by iphone:
vast opportunity before me
if I can find
the right phrase
to turn

I ask
for Rückert - Mahler.

And this little block of plastic, metal and alchemy,
produces song, written a century ago or more, practiced and sung
obsessively by I know not who, and conveyed by means beyond my comprehension from that faraway.

One new element to
my mise en scene.
How does a sound change
the quality of the sunlight?
How does it show the consonance
of peace-lily’s green and yukata’s golden yellow?
How does it break the isometrics of appearance
dismantle material’s surface, depth and shadow,
fracturing the lines
that denote the physical
revealing that truth is not object
but affection of its maker,
burnish of the keeper,
devotion of collector,
and colours change
as paint and neatness and machine-dressed sweetness
in the widening of my mind?

How is it that these tremours in the air,
the slightest vibrations,
elevate the centre of my spirit,
as if incorporeal hands had, with kindness, certainty
and confidence
cupped the frightened bird
that the thing I call myself
has become of late,
and lifted it above,
to where the air
is everything?

I still lie upon my bed,
blissfully bereft of answers
and draw strength
from the sounds
I cannot comprehend.

Jo Harker Shaw (they/them) is a non-binary writer and performer from Scotland, now settled in London. Their first novel (forthcoming) is based on the lives of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley. They have a doctorate in Literature and Writing and teach at St Mary's University in Twickenham. Publications include 'Songs of the River' and 'The Darkness and the Dawn', as well as a chapter in the award winning 'Futures of the Past'.

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