Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Third Class Murder

There was a subtle movement at the edge of things. Perception included most senses of the body, and the heady stench of imagined black steam was the first sense that officially hit you. Then its acrid acid taste, before the sound of moving metal juttered upon static metal. Closely followed by some fingering out upon either swaying side of your seated body testing the supporting touch of brushed upholstered shuddering weave. Finally, a gradual realisation that around and above was the emerging sight of concerned faces poking towards you with their own instinctive version of fingering out.

But which body sense had sensed the original subtle movement? The sense of fear: the strongest sense of all that could contain itself independently without the aid of other senses to support it? But a sense stronger than fear itself was consumed by a vision that you were thanklessly killed for mindless kicks, not even as a stranger’s gratuitous murder for literary treatment or as a murder performed with a choice of motives for a popular 'whodunnit'.

Yours was a third class murder where prior existence itself was nothing but a multitude of senses forever dwindling one by one along an endless track of dislodged sleepers.

A subtle movement at the edge of things. A hissing in a forgotten siding. A single smeared face and ghostly fingers upon a leather tongue.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Nontention and the Abhurdity of Onsense

"It is my nontention, however, that what we have here is not merely abhurdity but onsense." (sic)
from 'Children of Epiphany' by Frances Oliver (Secker & Warburg 1983 and Ash Tree Press 2004)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Song of the River

(Lewicide 5)

Bill knew a lot about River rights. Riparian rights, as he taught me. R-I-P-A-R-I-A-N.

I often asked him why he kept the river fenced in from the land through which it flowed.

“It’s my land and I don’t want my land suffering from the curse of that damn river!” he would say, brushing an ever-thinning fringe from his eyes as he squinted at me dolefully.

“But surely, Bill," I replied, "the part of a river that flows through your land is your river, for which you are responsible?”

Compared to Bill, I knew I was too young to know most things that he boasted knowing. And, what was more, the wrong sex for knowing anything at all – in his eyes. I smiled. I was so much younger, I knew one thing for sure: he was too old for me to view him as a prospect for marriage, however much land he owned. Never mind, I often enjoyed his company, although ‘enjoy’ may not be wholly the correct word..

“Have you heard of the word ‘riparian’?” he asked. He asked this question many times on different occasions, despite having asked it before. And then he would continue: “Riparian tells of a lot of things that rivers can and can’t do, who owns which stretch of it and if you own a particular stretch, do you also own the water in that stretch, even when knowing that water is ever changing within the current?”

“That’s a new word that,” I said. He knew it wasn’t new. I knew it wasn’t new. But it was best to say it was new.

“Riparian,” he said, “is in all the law books but one thing the law books don’t tell you, Miss, is about curses and things that history steep in its waters, things quite beyond the scope of laws. Riparian is more than just law or common sense. It’s a feeling of ... what shall I call it? Spirit of Place?”

Bill often went off on one. I smiled, humouring him, even charming him with what he once called my ‘sparkling looks’. He said, too, more than once, that rivers had sparkling looks on one day, but gruff ugliness the next. I think that is what he said. The river was one of his hobby-horses, and Bill would not have been Bill without his hobby-horses.

He touched my hand so fleetingly, I hardly noticed – and he continued:

“Riparian rights also tell of the noise of a river as well as its looks. Not just the changes that happen with the weather changing, but changes stemming from its actual moods as a river.”

“Do rivers really have moods separate from the weather, Bill?”

This is not the first time that I’ve told you that this was not the first time we had had this conversation. I laughed to myself as if knowing the very rhythm of this river’s ritual, but then Bill went off on another one. This time a different one. A Billish speech I had never heard before:-

“Of course, on foggy days, its song can be sad or it can be happy. On rainy days, the same. On sunny days, the same. But on snowy days, it seems to swallow and gulp and choke. Riparian rights and wrongs in books won’t help you there. That’s why I fenced off the river. Its moods seemed to seep into the crops and my grazing animals bleated in tune with tunes I did not want them bleating with. Sad bleats whether the river itself was sad or happy that day. So I thought that by fencing off the river through my land, along its fringes, I would show it that I disowned it. Disowned it, literally, Miss. Riparian, Riparian, damn your Riparians. But I can see you shaking your head. How can a mere fence remove the song of the river? A fence is not sound-proof. Well, let me tell you,” – and he touched my hand again, this time more lingeringly – “it is all down to showing the river who’s boss. A fence along its fringes is just as powerful as even the thickest, highest river-wall, indeed even more powerful because the river can see things through the fence-slats and this makes it feel sad at losing its own ownership of the land through which it flows. Ownership can work both ways, you see. This time it’s a permanent sadness. Never to be mixed with happiness. The fence makes the river feel even more cut off than if we’d dammed it at source!”

“The river can see things as well as sing?” I asked, withdrawing my hand.

“Yes, it can see us as clearly as we see it. And when it sees things it didn’t know it missed seeing, it sort of utters its own misbegotten bleats ... as if it wants to die. Riparian suicide.”

At this point, I got up from the stile where we were both sitting. I kissed the top of his head and went home across his land, along by the fence he had erected by the river. I’m never sure how it sounds when I am not listening to it, but today as I walked, I heard sobs rather than bleats. And I shook my head as imagination played tricks on me. Through the slats, I saw the fringed heads of creatures or other amphibians floating along like logs towards a log-jam.

That was the last time I saw Bill outside of an open coffin. He died of old age overnight, I guess. I never really forgave myself for not taking him seriously. His body seemed literally to flow between the ornate casket sides. Perhaps waiting for my tears to join him there.

I now always think of Bill when I see the word ‘riparian’ ... which is not often.

Written today and first published above

Lewicide 4:

Friday, February 05, 2010

An Act of Despair

“Sort it out!”

His voice was Essex. I now knew there would be no crossing this ‘gentleman’ ... well, not crossing him twice, as, evidently, I had already crossed him to elicit such a response: a response with no possible further response.

I turned to see whether this man’s companion, a woman of equal presence to his, would give any clue, by look or word, as to the options open to me. There was an unspoken glance of recognition between her and me, a glance that neither of us read properly.

There was no comfort there and, in the end, no memory, as if by their closing off of any options, the man and woman had me cornered.

But even in those few short instants, it dawned on me that even a cornered rat has one option. By allowing me no get-out clause, they had allowed me the best get-out clause of them all. An Act of Despair.

And that’s the way I sorted it out. Doing nothing. All of us frozen in time, waiting for my next move. Nobody willing to escape the final unspoken clause of all.

The County of Essex has wide open skies. Straightforward bent diamonds embedded in the salt of the earth.

The woman eventually wandered off mumbling to herself. She’d forgotten if she’d forgotten who she was. Leaving behind two dead bodies: not dead from a sudden duel, but from the pure onset of old age, with both men waiting too long for each to grow old faster than the other.

They say reaction in a gunfight is deadlier than if drawing first.

The woman smiled mindlessly. She’d not really liked either of the men. Her get-out clause was not only unspoken but taken as unread. I was no longer alive to sort it out. The ending, that is. The writing or the reading of it. Yet I somehow knew that despair always acted in due course...

The woman boarded a bus for home. Luckily buses in Essex were always late. And often lost.

(written today and first published above)


Following my article on Gunfleet Sands Wind Farm yesterday:

Findings have just been announced today that moths and butterflies surf the wind;

They instinctively or deliberately discover fast moving winds or thermals in the upper atmosphere that enable them to migrate vast distances in a short space of time. One can imagine them surging along - enfolded together or separately? - in an unconscious nirvana or fully conscious? -

?? like fiction writers who send their synchronised shards or mites into visionary tides of random truth and fiction within the vast migratory creativity of art. Some tides self-created others created for them.

These phenomena should be called 'skights', I say.