Friday, February 13, 2009

Who is it who touches them - all these writers with their many eyes at the end of long stalks, moving through buildings, people, and time itself? We look through their pieces, negotiate turns and clamber up and down the walls they erect every time there is a half blank page - for after this page they are somewhere we did not consider, an argument that will come back to us only after long, perhaps dangerous treks. This is why I believe in muses.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Even now the name runs along my spine, squeezing every muscle - undulates from the ear, and slips past all rationalisation - and I hunger to make something of it.

This is not a new story. Someone who vaguely knew Plato, and Socrates before him, had as his talent the seeking of honey - an unlearned aptitude he would or could not share. None of us ever knew where he went once his figure sank below the crestline of the nearby ridge; but he always came back with the combs, always.

Even if I have the will to reach the crest, I know, only trees will be visible to me - all lined up and ready to be used, by one beast or another.

What might be an old ode

There is nothing you write that cannot be traced back to you.

This is my conviction, and I am more convinced of it the more we are entwined. One day, some day, you will not be able to keep 'me' from 'us'. If I am not already in your dense and intercrossing lines I might be soon. Or perhaps I am in those lines, but only as the grit that will be dusted off by the time the publisher tells me 'yes'. To him I present you, but you have already straightened your blouse and sweater, you stand smiling at the door, alone.

There are some senses whose reports and verdicts might come back unadulterated, again and again, as each person sees or each hour departs. But there are others which depend on the air, which recognise no lines or angles but only a space, which those signals they are attuned to will do everything to fill, even at the cost of all their own clarity. And you sit, catching every sound as your name describes, and giving nothing - not the sound of eating a sandwich, not even the sound of breathing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

There is such a thing as a fear to write. There is such a fundamental separation between the thought and the finger, across which an idea may gain something, or lose everything.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Extent of the Sea


By any measure it seems a disproportionate response to a soft, distant and unthreatening sound. Jolting awake she sits up in bed for a while and then walks to the window of her room. The sound is too real to have emanated from her dream and also too incongruous; but neither does it fit here. In a cheap motel, on the outskirts of a city deep in the hills - the sound of waves?

She throws on a windbreaker - here she sleeps with the clothes she would go out in - and heads downstairs, then out onto the deserted street. The source of the sound is not very far away, as is the river that feeds and winds itself around most of this city. But rivers gurgle on unceasingly, they do not surge and withdraw; and anyway this river is silent here, there are no rapids or shallows.

So what is it? By the time she re-enters the motel her exit has been noted by the lady boss, who now watches her with a smile from behind the counter. She is not carrying any luggage, she has no intention of running away without paying tonight's fee - or she thinks that is the evaluation of her being carried out now. She wants to ask about the sound of waves, but there seems no appropriate way of framing such an inherently absurd question.


She wakes up at seven thirty, greets and thanks the lady boss for her hospitality and free, strong coffee, and then enters the streets. Last night's interlude she puts down to first-night jitters - it just happens.

Nonetheless she walks toward the river, and where the road meets the water she sees the large flat space, like a parade square, now crossed with long lines on which all the clothes of the city seem to be arrayed to dry. Under brilliant sunlight the colours look even more pronounced, and their movements in the breeze renders her speechless.

Across the road from the washing square, middle-aged women throng the coffeeshop; these must be the washer women. Some of them wave at her, and then laugh when she waves back. With her fair complexion and camera she is obviously foreign, something inherently distant like the sea whose sounds they replicate night after night. She, whose life was mostly spent much closer to the sea than they would ever be, tries to recall when the last time she saw and heard waves was to no avail.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

No Stamina

If the hand walks on its fingers, or glides suspended from the wrist, it can never catch up with a mind which has learned the skill of running in two, even three ways at once. Somewhere along the way even the mind stops, realising it is alone - a mind without a body is a very useless thing - and sits down and cries.

Sometimes some things need tying up. Like the errant legs of a mind.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

An Abundance of Filled Vats

Whenever the hints of impending rain sweep over this place, on the slope of the Eastern Central Mountains facing the Inland Sea, we would put down whatever we were working on and rush to the storage room about a hundred metres from the main house on this farm. There the huge earthenware vats, used for storing rainwater, are held.

We would have to carry them out to the gravel field in front of the room in time to gather as much water as possible from the rain. The storms here come and pass very quickly, lasting no longer than five minutes; but they are incredibly intense, and in those few minutes enough water could be gathered to fill several vats. We then have to move all the water into a few vats and bring those down, on a small trolley, to the house itself where the proprietor will place some hasugo into the water, to scent it and prevent any germs or mosquito larvae from settling, and store the vats away.

In those minutes when the storm peaks over this patch of mountain forest we would all be hiding in the vat room, a dark and somewhat damp place where we have found centipedes, spiders, lizards and even toads. Once I showed a spider to Mitasme, who then refused to enter the room no matter what I did; this way we both got caught in the storm, paralysed by the blinding rain and only returning to the farmhouse after it had passed. Every part of our bodies exposed to the raindrops became blue-black over the night; as she apologised for her recalcitrance I massaged her battered shoulders and said nothing.