Month: September 2014

Homeless elation

synapse

 

A muffled voice over a low wave. A violin whispers in the ear. Synapses spark and flash till spinal chills overwhelm. A great organ horripilates. A cello’s bass reverberates through connective tissues that feel. An oboe soars in the lungs till emotions dizzily follow a physiological repertoire and retort with florid eyes. A piano’s cyclical melody soothes a throat-aching yearn, a chest-tightening pine, a homeless elation.

 

Image source: http://teleautomaton.com/post/1179230296/technology-review-turning-thoughts-into-words

Advertisements

A humble winter tree

Winter Tree

On a winter’s night, under an indigo-black sky a tree stands alone next to a yellow light on the corner of a city pavement. It is bold, youthful and strong yet quite ordinary.  An intricate spiral pattern emerges from light-reflecting, icy moisture on smooth, bare branches. Nature shows a face, an invisible web connecting each twig and sleeping bud with light and molecules and atoms, energy, cold and magnetism. Cars rush by.  A man walks his dog.  A couple argue on their way home from the pub.  Yet no one sees the trees incandescent display.  The secret remains within the humble roadside, ice-lit winter tree which, on occasion, reveals the hidden code of everything.

 

Eat my words

I will eat my words

I will eat my words

The red-haired woman is very angry with her husband.  She asked him to write a note, a sort of memo to the staff but he had done a very bad job of saying the right thing.  The angry wife tells me to review the note and re-write it. Then she says lots of things that she does not like about her husband till my head hurts and I forget where I am.

I find the husband hiding at the back of the book shop between self-help and foreign languages. He is tall, lanky, nervous and has poor control of his limbs, as though he just grew into a man only moments ago and hasn’t quite got used to his new proportions. He is wearing a navy jumper over a sage green shirt, mustard yellow corduroy trousers and tan moccasins. His short, brown, utilitarian hair is reminiscent of schoolboy crops.  I ask to see his note and he hands me a jar of puffed rice and it tumbles but I catch it before it smashes on the floor.  He pulls a crumpled handkerchief from his pocket and mops his brow.

I clutch the jar carefully to my chest and walk to the wooden bench in the window and take a pew on a wobbly stool.  I dip a stainless steel dessert spoon in and eat a spoonful of puffed rice.  It is coloured brown and seasoned with soya sauce and star anise.  As I chew a mouthful, a sentence emerges from mist in my mind. Each grain of rice is a word and each spoonful I eat, a sentence. The saltiness of the rice is so tastily moreish that I gobble more and more. Words drop down my jumper and land on the floor and passers-by tread on them and as grains of rice crunch under boot heels and get stuck in shoe grooves and carried to the pavement, their meaning is shattered into tiny alphabet crumbs.

I eat over half the jar, almost the whole memo, till my belly swells and I undo my belt and top button before remembering with a final gulp of Asia’s grain, that I cannot edit a note if I eat it all. But how strange it is, I ponder, that crumbs are the alphabet and rice is words and mouthfuls are sentences and a full jar of rice is one complete, imperfect note.

Flood

Swimming in my dressing gown

I walk to a place of three hills.  My hill is lower than the other two.  Sun battles cloud.  All the land fills with water.  As the ocean rises I look with envy upon a family standing on the very top of the highest hill in the valley. They are close and safe and dry. The High Hills stand with arms folded. I hear them chunter with ambivalent curiosity, mulling over what the Low Hills will do.  My sisters and I embrace the coming of the seas. ‘Shall we swim?’ says the middle one.  I wade out into water.  I am wearing an old towelling dressing gown and carrying a cup of tea. The gown becomes sodden and heavy.  I panic.  Then I tread water and sip tea.  My sisters distant banter drifts into my ears on a maritime breeze.  The ends of my hair are wet.  Calming waves lap fondly at my shoulders.  Sunlight reaches across the water.  I feel its warmth upon my face. Everything will be fine.

Storytelling

Once upon a time (English)

A long, long time ago it was – Fadó, fadó, fadó a bhí ann (Irish)

It’s an old story – बहुत पुरानी बात है – Bahuta purānī bāta hai (Hindi)

There was once – Der var engang (Danish)

My mother would read fairy tales from a large, grey book.

defregger_franz_von_die_marchenerzahlerin1

The Storyteller, Franz von Defregger, 1871

I was fond of Tommalise by Hans Christian Andersen

thumbelina-3

Tommalise by Vilhelm Pedersen

There was once a woman who wished very much to have a little child, but she could not obtain her wish. At last she went to a fairy, and said, “I should so very much like to have a little child; can you tell me where I can find one?”  “Oh, that can be easily managed,” said the fairy. “Here is a barleycorn of a different kind to those which grow in the farmer’s fields…”

And I sank into wonderment.

Image 1 source: http://robvanderwildttellerstalespictured.wordpress.com/

Image 2 source: https://topillustrations.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/vilhelm-pedersen/thumbelina-3/

Dream of flying away

I live in the 19th century in Victorian London.  The drawing room is crowded with men in top hats and coat tails.  There is a thick, smoky fug.  I am stifled.  I want to escape.  I sneak out of the back door and walk to the end of a long, thin, untidy garden.  I lift my layers of skirts and scale a metal fence; the like of which I have never seen before.  I jump from a height into a busy road. Every which way I turn there are motorised vehicles so I run.  I run and run down the road till air fills my mourning dress and lifts my feet and I am flying.  My flight is jerky and uncertain.  I’m worried my petticoats will get caught beneath angry wheels.  I try flying with one arm outstretched but two arms thrust forward gives me more power.  Yet I cannot gain enough height to stay above the bustle.

 

???????????????????????????????

Fleeing the past

 

 

Mount Etna erupts during fish head stew

???????????????????????????????

In a bit of a stew

 

It was summer 1999.  I ventured out from the grotty pensione for my first evening ‘solo‘.  A surly, paunchy waiter with impressive sweat patches under his arms slammed a clay pot down on the wobbly table and barked ‘caldo’ at me with paternal gruffness.  The fish looked aghast at their predicament.  I stirred my spoon through abundant heads that bobbed around helplessly in sea-laced pomodoro.  I took another generous sip of red wine while summoning the courage to swallow something that would ordinarily beat me in a staring competition, when poised with glassy-eyed head on fork, I noticed a faint glow in the night sky.  On this hot Sicilian September night Mount Etna erupted and emblazoned on my memory its magnificent, molten sight.