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Interstitial – Matt Neil Hill

Between us and you there is dirt.

We crawl and burrow, pushing towards the light, worm casts and rainbow-hued beetles between our spectral teeth, the taste of banishment. Mud plugs our ears that we may no longer hear your schoolyard taunts, serenaded only by the glacial drumming of our unwanted hearts. We are blind down here, sheltered from your hateful faces, glamoured by the kaleidoscopes projected against the sunless canvasses of our stitched eyelids.

Between us and you there are thorns.

We ascend through brambles and wild rose, pricked and torn, a thin gruel of afterlife’s blood marbling the disturbed earth. Slugs and snails crawl across the backs of our hands, never to reach their destinations. You fail to see the hunger of our gaze between the emerald razor wire and fading blooms, because you no longer care to look. We gnaw at the stems for chlorophyll sustenance as scarlet infiltrates the cracks in our teeth, gums indistinguishable from the mulch of autumn leaves.

Between us and you there is concrete and brick.

Disentangled from the wilderness you make of everything, we scourge ourselves against the walls of your cages. We rub our noses in the spoor of urban foxes and feral cats that scavenge from your dustbins. We drink the overflow of gutters and drains, savouring the bitter sweetness of your waste. We chisel with tooth and claw at the nails and mortar holding your world together. We covet what lies beyond the slow elasticity of glass, crave the warmth and light we are denied. Your barriers hold, but only while you hide.

Between us and you there is air.

Beyond choking, we navigate your contrail mazes of burning plastics and sub-Saharan dust. Through fossil fuel heat-haze we watch the migration of swallows, martins, nightjars and cuckoos, their hollow bones destined for distant skies or part-way hedgerow graves. Abandoning the empty promise of the clouds above your parks and gardens, we descend, whistling through threadbare retreats of oak and silver birch. We raise the hairs at the back of your neck and prickle at your tonsils as you breathe us in.

Between us and you there is skin and bone, and the salt slick of blood.

Expanding through the inverted tree structure of your lungs’ alveoli, we bathe in the stagnant waters of your interstitial tissues; the milky, lightless wash of streams and tributaries that irrigate your bodies. Our haunted tongues, so long dry, lap at the pools wherein your organs swim. Along the ridged steps of your backbone we leap like salmon through the spume of your churning spinal fluid, breathless towards our goal. In an approximation of love undreamt of we caress the tender folds of your brains, the incandescent dancing angels of your pinprick memories. And finally, insinuated like a lullaby within your dreams of escape, our unremembranced past and your sleepwalked present grunt and sweat to breed a sullen, awful, glorious future.

Sated, at last, we sleep.

Between us and you there is nothing.