The Bad Days Will End.Contact.

Citta Violenta.

<< current

Toward a radical middle

a time for fear
Friday, August 08, 2003  
The mind would like to get out of here
onto the snow. It would like to run
with a pack of shaggy animals, all teeth.

Osip Mandelstam

Sprawling, sun-stunned. Wan skin, dilated eyes. Slowly burning, slowly bleaching, slowly tanning. I bask, like a big shark, tip at the surface, off-shore, calm. No, not calm. Sprawled, muscles supported by salt. Eyes lost in blue sky, slightly myopic, slightly eased. I burn in patches without even noticing. Nothing concrete or complete: all bits, flashes, surprises and shocks. Except now, as I wallow. Craner swimming with cormorants and gulls, fish and seaweed, leatherback turtles, moon and barrel jellyfish, dolphins and sharks. Circling me slowly, expanding orbits stretch out to sea and back onto shore. Float away from the crowds, the swell levels out, the riptide pulls me, drifts me nowhere, or into the line of oil tankers. The mind would like to get out of here, so I let go. There's just this cold flow of image and memory. The air is clear, or hazy, or frosty, or thick. A cliff that stands severe against pale sand. The calm sea roars in my ears, I submerge. Foam breaks up over sand. The sky is full of white birds. Details fall, and assemble. Motioned into a mosaic. No order to be made: empty spaces and blank bodies, they are given meaning, given direction, given detail, then it's different and...the sun or the rain...the clouds full of snow, clowds full of storms...petrels skim dark waves, rain rips across the horizon, cry of white seagulls, noise and little light. It's splendid. Stop to heat hands on the dying embers of fires lit and left among pebbles. Listen to the crackle of charred driftwood, loose kindling, like music <<< The sand gleams white and burns soft and hot between our hands. Together, uncles, aunts, cousins, mums and dads, watching Crab Island disappear, usually around tea-time. In wooden huts that curve along a concrete promenade, beneath car parks and tennis courts and dreamy, imperious houses, crisp mornings, curt evenings, we boiled water in a tin kettle, drank strong tea, scoffed buns with thick butter, didn't think about seeing beyond the horizon except on very clear days. Cracked concrete steps descend to sand, and glass: paradise of pampas grass, faded palms, spider plants. Stuck paper flags in mounds of sand, and found a Casio watch that didn't work. A concrete path along the bay that got so hot on hot days it scolded the tips of toes and heels. Doves, gulls and terns tore trash from the sand <<< starfish in rock pools, seashells and mineral deposits, features marked in limestone. Hidden coves found: clambering over wet rocks, slipping on seaweed, feet sinking into sand, sound sinking in dulcet tones, inside dank caves where water fell in frail cascades and sometimes we saw icicles. Arctic acres, inside - meanwhile... >>> Black sand cools at dusk. Channels set hard like peat. Streams cut through salt, shingle, seaweed, sand. Ropes and plastic bottles washed up from ships. Swansea dock spits out yachts and speedboats. A spell unwoven: degeneration. Tugs swarm, escort rough eyes into cold bondage. Dock arm extends, dark as tar, time-stained, expels and sucks in Balkan cargoes. Horizon hidden in the night except for light across the bay: amber, crimson, white. Pilot flames flare at exact intervals. Eventually retreat into cycles of daylight, sun and showers. Low tide at dawn leaves black sand beneath white sky <<< rattling scenes out on white walls, caught for prosperity: a manor house, rented near the sea, film marked: Pembroke, 1985. It rains, has been warm and murky since morning, windows stained black and green by shrubs and shade. Staring at summer storms all day, unblinking, absorbed. Light flickers on upstairs in a small bedroom, this story told: a kept woman, killed during a storm like now, who returns at these precise moments, the exquisite tragedy somehow laughable. "Let's draw dinosaurs. Give them names." Cut to: a walk across smooth, wet, dark pebbles, the sea a maelstrom, rough and green, romance of anglers lost at sea, and life in a lighthouse. ...always looking out for a pheasant on the grass in a beautiful garden. Tea on a table outside. "It was a lovely evening. The sun came out." <<< Marked out by the tides, the curve of the earth, one certainty: immersion, darkness, safety. The flood behind eyelids. Between the tides, exposed, shells crack under toes, shadows skim across rippled sand, our outlines yield, soften at the edges >>> You can get caught at the furthest point you can see from here. The causeway is exposed for about five and a quarter hours during low water. If the weather is calm it's a calculated risk. Shed in wind swept patches, dust-grey banks of rain cut across evening sun. The sea swallows rock pools and we get caught by the tide as the sky drops like ash. Stumbling over fescue and wild flower, stunned, a little stupid (as in, stupefied) we find an old war shelter, facing north. We gather anything that will burn and strike matches several times, and later sit in the flickering light of cigarette tips and the spit of flames blown by the breeze. Taut stars burst open between clouds. Foxes and rats hunt on slopes of weed. We watch clouds glide in at hard angles, and lose the moon. I am a black cat, did you just say that? >>> a place that teems with memory or destiny. A tawny owl haunts you across dunes, as you cut soles and toes on grass and glass, at the dead of dusk.

In a far away garden I swung
on a plain wooden swing - I recall
fir trees, mysterious and tall,
in my vague delerium.

10:22 PM

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