Patrick James Errington
There are Times I Think, If I Had To, I Could Breathe Water
Some 428 million years ago, Pneumodesmus newmani, a species of millipede, evolved openings along its body that allowed it to exchange air, making it the first known animal to leave the sea and live exclusively on land.
How many times did you assure me what’s past is present, always, in what we do? But I feel so little
of you now as I eddy in the aisles, the secondhand, supermarket air, absently turning over
produce in my palms, avocados, a pear, pressing for bruises, softened spots, evidence of some past
contact. I squeeze a little too hard: my proof, I guess, to the flesh that I exist. I may not exist
in the things you do now but the things you do really should still colour me, be livid to the touch.
I should wake to them, every day, like your hair on the pillow. They should stop up all the drains…
Today, I took the train north from Newcastle: a gasp of nettle, of aspen before the long sigh of sea, a lung
like a wet sail, gulls slipped off the glass like rain. And then that strict measure of the station, streets
feeding to a fathomed ceiling I still and sleep beneath, echoing with motion, sea-foam rolling in my blood.