The Happy Place

Oz Hardwick

What you want to remember is the sheep in the field and the Champagne on the high hill above the lake; those days of milk and honey, when money was just a number to be counted until you fell asleep. It didn’t matter that your skin was ill-fitting and that you hadn’t grown into your hands and feet; it didn’t matter that all the words that mattered felt awkward against the back of your teeth. It was a time to welcome ghosts and storms; a time to welcome the Devil when he showed up in the morning with his oily palms and empty lunchbox. Your wife, your husband, your therapist – or whoever that is with their old-fashioned clipboard and their back to the light – insists that you watch television, plant seeds, and take regular walks to mend, heal, and transform; but you know this is counterproductive, and that you’ll lie awake as your own skin chokes your breathing and not one sheep will show up for the counting. What you want to remember is that day when the Devil smiled as he sipped dry bubbles high above the lake; that day when all the awkward words slotted together like a wind-up model of the future; but there are seeds sprouting behind the television screen and, as they push you barefoot out the door, everyone assures you that they know best.

Oz Hardwick is a European writer working mostly in prose poetry and mostly in a state of troubled uncertainty. He has won many prizes – mostly raffles – and has trouble negotiating the debatable space between award and awkward. His new collection, A Census of Preconceptions, is due from SurVision Books late in 2022. Oz is Professor of Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University (UK) and can neither sing nor dance.



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