From small beginnings, he said. Not one for deep pertinence, and even now it was as if cliché had mistakenly slid into profundity. The green tinged flakes of wood laid down among balls of burning newsprint. The air heavy with moisture, fog, everything soaked, clothes that would not dry hung limp. Wondering if it will catch or not, the much known doubt, the material limbo. A skill we did not know we had, knowledge unearthed under soil, a new city that we knew long ago, made of concrete. Now it grew and everything could be hucked on it and fragility was a discarded memory. Huge heat blasted all around and smoke and fire held fast together burning the air, the sky and heavens in serene combustion. The muck and wet of slippery earth smokes brown and then frazzles in the heat, seizing up with the snails. Leaves burn quickest, and soon turn to black and are thrown in the air and mix with the white ash in a hellish Winter foresight. You stand back and feel your face start to cook, to throb with it all and yet your back has the wind on, the sweat cools on your clinging t-shirt. Split in half by temperature more perfectly than any thought could, one gets to know what materiality means, what stupid things can do to you. Smelling the toxic air, the scent of green– heady, as if you were smelling its concentrate deep in your nostrils. This all was a power, just not the right sort but one had to settle, after all and ― forget everything else. Work done and one got to feel the pleasure of something going neither right nor wrong, merely going.
I went back that night. I saw it through the blackness of windows lit up by harsh lights. A flat pitchblack rectangle, made three-dimensional by jagged orange. I put my boots on and walked up. Warm, for October. It was foggier still. Keeping the warm in, as if the fire had heated the very Earth, at least this minute skirt of it. The fire now a white ashen mound, a burnt out funeral pyre for a stooping ancient god. Here and there fire still broke out, or else there glowed a deep subterranean orange, reaching down to the heart. I looked out and the lights of the house ploughed out of the windows like car headlights or a blinking owl whose gaze was light. Things and sound shifted and pivoted ‘round and everything was a mote of pleasure, and the yells of distant men seemed so little to do with all this. Life was not this, what men think was wholly apart from this plane, only it tried to cling to it like ectoplasm. Now it felt gone in the ether.
You told me you want to be there and we would dine by this hell in all warmth for millennia but you were not there, and I, I spun around into familiar dreams.
He had not been thinking, but now he found himself hedged all around by buildings. The buildings seemed to be abandoned, but not ruined. The surface on which he stood was concrete, riven deep, as if by some subterranean trauma. Soil spilt over these cracks in which weeds grew taller than him and he felt angst at its impassability and its disregard for man. He could skirt around in places, but jutting fractals that loomed even through the windows of the buildings blocked his path. He turned back to the entrance of the courtyard and entered through a bloated door, that needed kicking to open. A trace of the rows and columns of chairs remained in the disorder of the place, the blackboard cracked too and the floor and other parts were turned green and rust. The corpse of some animal had left a viscous sludge on the floor around the outline of its absent body. Some bones remained but not all. Its jaw bone had been hung from the ceiling with a length of tatty string, and it rotated slowly, imponderable, around one way and then back, the light squeezing through its pained leer. He walked into the corridor. Barely a thing could be seen, and what light there was seemed only to pick out the thickest dust, so that there was only black and grey and a figure walked soundless and emerged half dust half man, and
a road, tarmac, two figures, yourself, the desert all around and floating on earth through nothingness only illuminated by a car’s headlights – a car which could not be found by your gaze. Your throat chokes with the desert dust, you inhale to quicken your death, or otherwise to feel so much you disintegrate this tiny absurd world. Everything is whitened now in the wake of obliteration, salt flats that are the horizon and riders alabaster perfect themselves, porcelain cowboys shattering and reforming with every second yelling out joyous things
and the gnawing begins, the few embers of mindfulness starting to burn the nape, sewing seeds of logic, linear time, cause and effect, what must not happen, what cannot happen, breaking apart the dead world of sleep even, the two trading off figures, myths and whispered knowledge between each other and these new arrivals were misunderstood, doomed wanderers, transient nothings worldlessly drifting, unhooked. Light starts to play on the eyelids and sifts down, slowly, passing itself on, on, to the next, until this too is in you and must be understood
and you feel your body, its shape, its heaviness, its desire, its needs, you feel where you are, your head swivels to discover time and the dangerous questions of so soon ago are forgotten, filed down and painted out only to return later, a confused flash that will not leave things be.
Photographs by Carmen Marchena, words by Ryan Boyd.
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