In the cool glow of dawn after the ball, Barbie went to the beach to wave bye-bye to Ken. She should have had eyes on the yachts out at sea, and wondering which one he was upon - but the morning came cold, ugly and windy and Barbie slept in. So it didn’t happen that way.
But later and instead and just to be true, she did don her gown again and went on down to the raggedy shore in the steely grey light of the storm, with the sun’s last bit still peeping through a slit between clouds and horizon. She stared out at the tempestuous sea, and for a moment
felt worried for him.
That’s when she met the Thing From The Sea.
This Thing it appeared and stood in her way, rusted, encrusted and dripping with sweat (the sweat of the world, she once called the sea, tasing it once when she was just three)
This Thing came out of the waves at her feet, while Ken sailed on over them - far away at the head of the fleet.
The Thing it said slowly in an unlikely voice (not rusted encrusted, but sort of young-ish and fun-ish) when it saw that her hair, and make-up as well was out of this time and da da de swell:
“I’m a Sixties Thing, I thought you should know. This is what we did in the old picture shows - us Things, we were always lurching out from the Swamp, the Primeval Ooze, or wherever it was that would go to point out that fear that is latent that fear that lies there still lurking, close under the surface of the most....triumphant of nations.
“Know what you mean,” I heard Barbie say, “I’m a hand-me-down model from mother to daughter, but I know it too well, recognise it today.”
I left them there still talking in the salt spray and mist
He, alone, rusted, encrusted and dripping with sweat.
She, glorious and glittering (and forgotten about Ken) the world’s wealthiest woman, thin as a pen.
I’ve seen her around since.
Him, never again.
People run off
‘E WENT THATAWAY the weathervane said ‘E RAN OFF TO SEA
People tend to get lost in land and run off to find themselves at sea -
like rivers must run and ultimately mingle, so it is with people too.
People tend to get lost in land and find themselves at sea.
So that is why it is I have painted myself with the legend ‘TO THE SEA’ - unlike my unspeaking next-door friend - and whichever way the wind might be, people, I’ve noticed have tended not to disagree.
Sex & the single sock
It must be a wild place there where single socks go: all-night parties, sex and mayhem and guilt obliterated by early morningunconciousness, while we stay-at-home stick-in-the-muds single socks alone search numbly through washing piles for missing partners.
Partners gone AWOL! Partners on adventures! Partners living the life, on the edge! Partners out there!
Sex and the single sock - chapters to fill the magazines of life beyond the fringes of our everyday: read by forks and spoons and cans o' beans and mixed-up miscellaneous single socks stuck in the mud at home.
But, them, out there! Romance of the unknown! Romance of the unattainable! Romance of the glitterati!
- single socks rich, sexy, single socks on the loose dancing with bent forks once tarnished, now loved and radiant, caressed by fulsome ripe-red lips, glittering brightly, replete with fame and fulfilment and cans of old beans you once thought worthless, and now mega-millionaires.
Single socks on the tabloid pages living a life unreal, unreachable; single socks exiting through imposing, mock-heroic Hollywood portals - architects’ dreams;
Single socks stepping out into the fizz-flash-glare-pop of thousands of instantaneous blue light flashes (the paparazzi ambush - oh, How they love it! How they live for this!)
While at home, I, single sock alone lost left and discarded search
through piles of washing with a peasant-bent back. And come up with?
We leave, Forever leaving
As lonely floating figures we make our way into the night and In time we’ll get to speak about the necessary venues where we might speak again.
We leave, Forever leaving Thinking What will stay behind -
We broke the legs of the dogs that used to keep us warm, and moving on, we must leave and search for other homes and others of our kind.
We leave, Forever leaving, Thinking, Dogs/we/new will find,
Speaking of the necessary moves and necessary shoes, where lives/we/knew we’ll find.
We leave, Forever leaving, Leaving necessary behind.
Come live with me and be my love upon my old inherited farm.
And I will offer
TV and bleary eyes and rugby in the wee small hours
while mist and moon and owls align outside.
I’ll know what nights we might see full moon rainbows in faintly tinted shades of silver.
Come live with me and be my love upon this fecund patch of soil
And there will be dawns of cold blue light days of mud and evenings softly sliced with shafts of golden green
corded, crumpled hills
and sometimes, heavy dew
Come live with me and be my love in the house that I will build for you
and there will be rust and junk and old machines
and sky and rain and kids and love.
Strange things happen in an ordinary day
A scruffy little sparrow fussed about my feet, while a burst of anti-matter came on heading straight for me.
The ghost in the machine almost breathed its last, and then it heaved a ragged kind of sigh,
said wearily, resignedly “Now, at last you can see that I am truly free.”
“Island fine, island fine,” she says “moments and extinction are one and the same.”
This thing called the rhythm of the myth - it seems to go like this: Read to me write to me, we’ll set tomorrow back, retreating into folds of reminiscences.
Creatures that fly in and out of lights on lonely dusty midnight roads - brief flares of whiteness come to disrupt the flow -
(“Island fine, island fine,” she says)
Cars urge onwards, scrunching at the gravel Planes fly forwards, tearing at the sky and time it sort of circles circumnavigating you and I.
Read to me, write to me, we’ll set tomorrow back ... and then we’ll count to four.
And have you noticed how there are always planes in the background, going, going somewhere - scratches in the sky –
(Read to me, write to me, we could just call it play) with a faraway muted rumbling kind of roar?
And people, always, always people, people on their way.
In blessed innocence and crafted ignorance we live within our shores – safe from all ‘cept flotsam and jetsam, moulded plastic pink.
And all the while they come beaching eating leaching
And all the while the sea just smiles, Says “How do you like my fit? The way I seem to sit So neatly round your shores?” (Island fine, island fine, you say)
And meanwhile, the great tree by my window, it roars back at the wind: “How dare you shake me so? I’ve been here a thousand years, You’ll be gone tomorrow!”
Turn over, back to sleep, soak up this pesky gale In innocence, crafted laughter, this house was built with nails… Safe from all, ‘cept flotsam and jetsam, moulded plastic pink.
In the hot blustery katabatic wind – past midnight – with a fingernail moon sailing in the sky (scraps of clouds sliding away underneath it)
I left the boat, and walked the narrow beach, steep, under the great blue grey Hottentots Holland Mountains with the nun I’d just met (years later, the kids in the movie would find a phrase for it: a nunswept beach)
She was saying goodbye to the coast, transferred to the thirstland Karoo, and didn’t mind, it seemed, someone to talk to.
And the whitecaps marching luminously in the thick blue light, the sand stinging my legs, her dress flapping manically in the night – a sound muted by those all around it.
She said softly that although this was her favourite spot, she had come to terms with leaving. There’s always something bigger than you, she said serenely, someone to obey.
Different folks: half drunk, I quizzed her half gently and our conversation stretched out to an hour punctuated by violent breaths of the hot roaring wind, and black-rag-scraps of shadow racing out across the sand to join the madcap march of the sea away from us.
Different folks: she stood so still in the soft shallow lap of the surge that her feet eroded into the sand, buried to her ankles while I – impatient I – walked and talked in circles around her, making restless little patterns with my toes.
We spoke about how the wind would be different over there the air itself be different the dust, and the texture of the night; and she said yes, but it was of course part of the something bigger that bound the all of us – us, the little moving parts.
What about Love? I asked when we got onto that and she said that was exactly what she loved.
Different folks: in the buffeting hot and swirling wind, the moon gone and now nearly dawn we walked to the breakwater, paused while she put her sandals on, and said goodbye with a handshake that was really just a touch of fingertips –
She went back to her packing (There’s not much she said, just two suitcases) not much for the rest of your life
and I dropped down lightly to the deck, crawled past the diesel to my sticky little bunk knowing we’d be going in the morning, and also,
that the wind would be gone by then, too.
To set all shimmering this luminous load:
to pitch and pull at vagaries and vice
to lift and float as millstones won’t
living, ardent-hearted, living hardest, happiest and hardest, and happiest
yet always seeming being someone other, making, faking, lists of ridiculous things
I - we - paddle on, paddle on and love it laughs like yesterday.
A bus called Democracy passed us and no, this is not a metaphor.
Barreled past, rocked us in its turbulent wake – that’s the trouble with riding at the speed limit, on otherwise limitless vlaktes.
Even busses weighed with the stuff a bus would not normally carry, and everything a bus normally does, even those busses pass you.
And give you one of those little skriks, just good to keep you awake, keep your heart exercised, and walk little scribbles in the sweat on your skin.
And your kids sigh, and shift uncomfortably. One spots a jackal, far-off, and remembers to tell us about it later.
A big white bus it was, with dark tinted windows, and rainbow signwriting on the back; and no, this is not more metaphor.
Perhaps I had dozed off, almost, in the memory of mountains weeks’ – no months’ – trek away and two hot hours in the car.
It was waiting for us – no not waiting – just there before us, at the see-through town fetched up in the crisp shadow of mountains,
mountains we imagined mountains we knew from a map mountains we’d never see again.
And it was grinning – no, not the bus – the people spilling from it, and the rainbow sign was the same on the front, only with the colours reversed.
One of them gave us directions. And I swear the bus smiled – or maybe it was the person – but it did sigh in the way big weary busses do.
And no, this is not… hell, by now you must know how this goes.
No chapters, agreed
(Can you remember) the names of the clouds? How long and light and lovely at once?
No chapters, he said; no chapters, agreed.
Alto cirrus appear today as a wish and leave – no persist – depending on you.
No chapters you go and sit there instead in the belly of a great shining beast.
(And couldn’t recall) the names of the clouds – long and light and lovely at once.
A footpath remembered
It’s a pattern out of time I’m told: a continuum that’s been cut
(at 30,000 feet over the South Java Sea; Bali - Darwin - Equator - Singapore)
and a hard-cool-earth footpath as smooth as the palm of your hand, under my hand - pat down by the feet of...
I see it right now a clearer-than-airline-white wine-skyshop vision sort of grey, says me, five-year-old master of words sort of colourless, says me now, remembering.
[Ping! Seatbelt sign]
No colour like water reflecting a sky the colour of sweat (no colour, no sky) No colour like topsoil grown old, grown tired, and gone off to bed No colour like old movie dreams
sort of grey, with cracks; no grass hard cool dry pat down by the feet of ...
and a meandering [“More tea, anyone?”] meandering route,
like a lurch that’s enshrined, and repeated by rote from a house to a house and a sky full of stars (have some stars extincted themselves since the nights of my youth?) Pat down by the feet of...
these people I remember in smells and in sounds (what happened to names?)
Take me far back find the space in the time to center the wheel to strings that will stand to tie down the mind of this man and a boy
[“Our flight path will take us-”]
to a footpath that calls us
Pat down by the feet of
generations before us.
Shoreline of Shipwrecks
My friend has a map of a shoreline of shipwrecks - a place where there are plenty.
Neat little icons, the heavenward bows of broken ships poking above the waves.
You can almost hear the men lined up, bravely singing “God Save the Queen” as women and children take to the boats; the creak and crash of timber; the awful screams of twisted metal; the thunder of the surf on that forbidding lee-shore lee-shore lee-shore.
Yes, sure I had an ancestor who foundered once on a bar on a wild coast that he’d become famous for crossing and surviving, till then, till then.
So whenever I visit I look at the map, and memorise a name or two, and wonder which little shipwreck little shipwreck on this new lee-shore lee-shore lee-shore is me.