I sometimes wake in the morning to find words written on my hand. Often they are fleeting thoughts jotted down the evening before in an attempt to capture them before they slip away. I know that tomorrow those thoughts will be gone; lost in a mixture of sleep and wine and with no paper to hand skin is the thing – I always have a pen in my pocket.
Other times these jottings are the plots of dreams from the night before which, half awake, I scribble onto my skin to remind me of the tale that was unfolding in my head just before I awoke. Of course rarely do either make any sense the next day – just what does ‘we a cham glagotory’ mean?
Even when I can decipher my handwriting, what seemed so profound the night before - so worth pursuing - usually seems flat and uninteresting in the cold light of day. I’m sure that the television programmes of the past seemed fresh and meant something to the viewers of the time, but do I really want to expand upon that premise? Just where does it go from there? So why did I write it on my hand in the first place?
Occasionally though I pluck something out of the air or ether that is worth building upon, although I often struggle to remember even a quarter of the thoughts that were running through my head at the time. The ‘notes’ folder on my computer is full of documents transcribed from my hand. Single lines which read ‘cabbage patch doll life’ or ‘A-Z of alphabets’.
All this stuff caught up in the lines and pocks of an aging hand; forgotten not once, but again and again until I don’t know where they came from or even who wrote them. Yes, despite my attempts at reminders it can be a little disconcerting. It’s particularly worrying when I find something on my hand that I don’t remember writing at all. Sometimes I wonder if another me wrote on my hand whilst I was asleep, tattooing my palm with his thoughts not mine and leaving me to find them.
Sometimes there are whole missals: ‘Can you hold this for a while? It’s a homespun pile. It’s my blue guitar and when you touch it, it dies.” No, I don’t know either. I don’t even play guitar, let alone own one and most of these words aren’t even mine they’re someone else’s.
It happened again last night and when I awoke this was written upon my hand. I think that it’s verse. Maybe it’s mine, maybe not. How can I tell?
Sometimes at night
(Late in the bottles),
Of what if and what offals
And the guts of my life slips.
(Twenty pence a pound).
As I sniff at the troughfulls
It depends on the stand
And the day
And how I may
(Or how many I have to say).