S is for Snake. I remember first seeing that on the walls of my reception class at primary school: a sinuous green and red snake smiling down on me. S was my silent friend in a too noisy classroom. She was my guardian, my keeper, my saint.
I remember first learning to write her: it gave me such pleasure to describe that curve which doubles back on itself.
S begins and ends my name. I feel held and contained by her. She makes my name a caduceus, as she twines around and through me.
S is for secrecy and sorcery. She is the sinister sister of the hidden path. S hides, waiting for me to pass. She whispers to me.
S sings me to sleep.
S slithers from my grasp.
S is a sea-swimmer and I’m afraid of water. She calls me to join her, but I can only watch. She swims like a seahorse, like mosquito larvae, flexing her spine.
I love the numbers I associate with S: Five and Seven. She’s the green serpent of Five and the lilac serpent of Seven. As Five, foliage sprouts from her mouth; as Seven, she’s a ghost, a spectre.
S is incomplete, imperfect: she’s Eight broken, snapped, halved. She strives for eternity, for (re)union, but she can’t attain it. S is all desire. She falls in love too easily.
S is for September, the month in which I was born. She’s all ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’… though I’ll say anything to feel closer to Keats.
S turns to Sh in Sian: Shin, not Samekh. I have always felt divided by this difference between the spelling and the pronunciation of my name: often, I have to spell it for people I meet, and have to pronounce it for people who have only read it.
I lie down and my twin S’s curl around me. One of them is already asleep. The other remains awake.