Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Flower To Try Its Currents

A lonely town, adrift in a sea of waves: an island. On all sides there are barriers to prevent the meeting of land and water. A dry moat and the children who run within it.

In the centre, just past the railway station, a curve of shop doorways and the street lamp that lights them. From the glass, reflections and shadows bring warmth to the youthful proceedings. Steps, mainly, back and forth, the odd jab, the occasional cigarette, the smallest touch of laughter. It is cold tonight but no rain. The dryness has a snap that could maybe break their heads.

In the summer, the sun takes the town, turns it around. The oppression of the heat, everyone indoors, air conditioning, dry throats, faces etc. A kind of death of the town. Despite the heat, a cold, shimmering disc floating in a sea of warmth. No swimming, just bobbing.

The spring brings gambolling and all the virtues of new life and.

The spring brings a fade of wetness that reinvigorates the town, restores its people. Rehydrates, rather. It’s all about life. There are children, of course, clacking down the cobbled streets, chasing the coal man, the rag and bone man, the ice-cream man. There are children on low curbs, their knees past their ears, always looking down the street for the surprise that may turn in at the bottom. The surprise of the motor car, an errant bus, the run of a lost squirrel.

The spring fetches up the sea, filled also with new life and.

The sea is a surround that rises. It keeps an eye on the landlocked inhabitants within. The sea thinks it is the keeper of the land. Fish swim in it. Mermaids cut through it. Shopping trolleys sink in it. It is a stew of sorts.

Self-sufficiency is a curse to the sea. But who, after all, needs fish and saltwater? Health animals, heart attack types, nature bores, kitchen fanciers, letter writers, wine fanciers, wind chimers, hill walkers, real alers, documentary watchers, cottage dwellers, property owners, herb fanciers, tree climbers, river drivers, cyclists, recyclists, bedwetters and you.

The landlocked inhabitants, the lubbers, are held in a particular moment. There they are, standing against shop windows, rolling marbles, passing each other in the street, undressing through window frames, dying at the bottom of the stairs, peeking up through coal grates, flashing their knickers at passing strangers, kissing in the front seats of burnt out cars. They are activity driven, of one kind or another. The sea will not slow them.

The sea, how many times? How many times has it spied over the wall and dreamed of filling the moat, of drowning the children? Four? Three thousand? Countless times? The latter. Because the sea, every day, dreams of filling the moat and drowning the children. Every day. But the children, through generations, are aware of this and cock their appropriate snooks to the sea. And does the sea care? You can bet your salt it does.

Man-made barriers are a barrier to the sea’s success in the town. Let’s stick it to nature, the Mayor often says, when he’s addressing crowds against the backdrop of the angry sea. Tempestuous sea, naturally. He wipes spots of sea from the back of his neck. Drops of sea. Let us celebrate, he continues, the miracle of this town. Let’s stamp our feet on dry ground and make butterfly angels when it snows. Let’s hop from pavement to street, avoiding the curb, and tap in the gutter. Let’s crane our necks and twist our heads in admiration of the manmade steeples, skyscrapers and telephone masts that punctuate the unbearable aridity of the sky. Let’s whistle in appreciation to the vigour of our advertising boards. Let’s celebrate the triumph of the motor car. Let’s leap to it when the factory whistles blow. Let’s sink our pints, throw our darts and rub sawdust on the floors. Let’s say we like music when we mean we like music. Let’s dance to the music. Let’s stand, in rows three deep, watching the shop television screens in silence when our leaders are slaughtered. Let’s raise banners against those who raise banners. Let’s throw balls against old people’s walls. Let’s blow hard into sucker wrappers in order to get to our suckers. Let’s stand on park benches and make out like trees. Let’s hang our washing on the thinnest of lines. Let’s tell all the backwards that we want to go forwards. Let’s burn our electric lights and blaze them all night. Let’s go to smoky jazz clubs and make a noise for rock ‘n’ roll. Let’s tell our best children to sit on their desks. Let’s repair our railways when our railways have broken. Let’s drive our cars when our railways are broken, when our railways are working. Let’s hold hands before we step on to the grass. Let’s dress all in black when our people are dead. Let’s hate death and celebrate life. Let’s tear down old monuments to make way for new monuments. Let’s smile at radioactivity and get to know our nuclear. Let’s smoke ‘em if we’ve got ‘em. Let’s make one thing clear: we will not be slaves to the sea.

To which the people, oh, they cheer. The blank of the sky soon dotted with hats. Banners trailing behind planes. Cheap flights carrying the working-classes round the town, out of the town and faraway over and above the sea. Hooray for the working-classes! Hooray for cheap flights! Hooray for Israeli fruit and veg!


Blogger Shannon Forbush said...

Like it. I like the children with the knees past their ears, and looking for suprises. I like the sea as stew, and as an angry, vengeful one at that. The sea as the loser, even though it can win whenever it wants.

2:29 PM  

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