Sunday, 27 March 2016

What Came With The Lightning

What Came With The Lightning.

They said it came with the lightning. The rain had already given up, but the sea couldn't. Not while the tide was lost to its raging. Clashing and dragging its debris to the shore like it was a foot. Like it was a foot full of polio and couldn't hobble straight, that's what someone said outside the chippy anyway.

It was the lightning though, that brought it. Like the rasp of it, the stab of it, it pulled the creature straight from its bed, and clattered it onto the shore. Dumped it there then disappeared, before it could even die.

"Don't look, bairn, it's alright. If you divvin't see it, I promise yer, it'll be alright."

But she did. With her big lighthouse gaze, what else could she do? And she knew even before they got up properly close to it, that it wouldn't be able to survive.

"What is it, Da? And why's it here? Is it because the sea's scared of it too, so it's banished it to up here?"

This wasn't new to her, the vomiting. Half-eaten whales, deformed seals, bits of forgotten seacoal, none of that stuff was a big deal. But this thing, it was different. It had a face just like her Ma's for a start. Well, if she could remember he Ma, and if her face had been all scorched and bloated like that.

"It's a mermaid, Da. I think it's drowning. I bet that's what happens to them, when they're thrown onto the sand!"

Da poked it with the toe of his boot. It didn't move. A wave came in, snarled around the creature, snapped at the bairn's toes. The water was cold and breathy. Like it had whoofed itself straight from the mouth of a snowman, straight from the mouth of the North Pole.

"We have to put it back, Da, we have to put it back. It'll die out here on the causeway, it'll die!"

The sky started crackling. Like a bowl of cereal but turned up to ear-splitting. The bairn bent down and pushed the palms of her hands against her ears. And then the other noise started, right in her head.

"It's my time, little-one. It's my time. I asked the sky and the ocean to let me come here, to die. Take your Daddy now, and walk yourselves back home. I need this moment in the storm's heart, I need the solitude so I can leave and never have to return."

The rain jumped onto the bairn’s cheeks, then danced upwards, into her eyes. It anchored the hurt in her heart. Anchored it so much it capsized into her tummy, then sunk into her feet. As she watched, it flew from between her toes and out towards the creature. Then it started turning in the air, just above its head. Turning like a beacon, turning like a meteor streaking through the sky.

"Come on, Da. I need to go home. I may not want to, but the need's all that matters now."

She put her little fingers into her Da's big pocket. It was warm there, like a bird's nest waiting for its babies to wake up. The tips of her fingers touched his old handkerchief. She pulled it out and looked at it. One of the corners had an embroidered M, done in a fancy stitch with buttercup-yellow thread.

She traced it with her thumb, and ran back to the creature. She bent down and tied the handkerchief around a few of the strands of seaweed that grew from its head. Before she stood up again, she kissed the cloth, right atop the letter.

"It was my Ma's. We used to call her Meadowhead, because she loved flowers. I can't really remember her, the woman that was my Ma. Goodbye, Mermaid, I'm glad you decided to come here. Even though you have to leave straight away, I don’t think I’ll ever forget you. So for that, I have to thank you.”

The bairn ran back to her Da as the lightning began scribbling again. In its kisses and lines, the electricity narrated through the sky. It told the tale of a mermaid, of its death on a shore. How its arrival was a haunting. How its departure was about love.

Friday, 25 March 2016

The Borderland.

The Borderland

When he comes home, he smells of the city. It teems around him, making the hairs on his arms stand up like carousel horses, all leery and slow in their turning. He laughs at the leaves stuck on my face.

"You're such an anachronistic wee thing, aren't you? It's as though some ancient woman locked in an attic dreamed you up. Aw, sometimes you're so incredibly cute."

There's coffee conspiracies in his beard. Choca-mocha-something-or-others. Blended until they're diluted and flat. That's what the city does, but I'm too unsophisticated to comment.

"So, what have you done with your day, apart from kissing a tree?"

He's not looking at me when he asks. Too busy checking the newspaper that he reads on his tablet. He's the perfect preserver’s dream, no massacring of forests for his love of current affairs.

"I followed a fox, down the field. The one that leads to the churchyard. You know, where we made the snow demi-gods, back when you cared."

"Hmm? That sounds nice..."

The city never leaves him now. It's like the roots of it, they've leached into his bones. Once upon a time, he wore antlers instead of a tie. He knew the language of moors, the patience of fells. Now though, everything has to be fast. And I could appreciate that in a hare way, but it's not. His is the fastness of wires, the fastness of memes. The speed of indifference in electronic thumbs-up. And it disconnects the slowness of me.

"He'd lost the vixen he loved, the fox. He said she'd woke yesterday morning, pulled on a woman's skin over her fur, replaced briars for a Blackberry phone, and slunk off to the city on a bus..."

Outside, the Beech tree starts moaning with the wind. A solitary stoat in the Bluebell wood stands up, sniffs her nostrils northwards. The skull beneath the cairn clenches its dislocated jaw as three freshly murdered moles hang on the farmer's fence, singing.

"I know you don't believe any of the auld wives’ tales, but there has to be a balance. Even in forests of cities, with their concrete trees and their office-eyed viewpoints. So this evening, I'm leaving you for that fox. I've already regrown my vixen teeth, so stay away from me or I'll bite."

"That's lovely, pet. Could you pass me the charger, it seems I'm a little flat..."

But I don't and I can’t. My fox paws aren't designed for that, neither's my fox heart. I leap onto his knee and shatter though the kitchen window. Back out into the borderless world, back out into the wildness.

Monday, 21 March 2016

The Disappointment

The Disappointment

...flies in on its albatross wings, wearing its triceratops-unicorn disguise. It's tricky like that, with its gaping mouth full of teeth for the grinding of dreams.

It's a not-what-it-seems creature. When it says it will screw your brains out, it means it. Down comes its claws when you imagine you've found the door to your destiny. And off with your head it'll lop.

Until you no longer believe in anything, because you no longer think. You become just one more reactor in a field of reactors. Following and slobbering, waiting for the world to go 'boom', but it doesn't.

Because the Disappointment doesn't include that, just a plodding and plodding along. Until all of the bright wishes dim the way of dinosaurs and myths.

Become fragments of bones in neglected museums.
Become the ghosts of epilogues haunting unwritten books.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Moon As Chewing Gum

The Moon As Chewing Gum

I thought when I was young
that the moon was chewing gum
and that's why I wasn't allowed it.

And I was told (before I became old)
that swallowing pips would cause a world
of apple people to grow in my stomach.

Except it was a tummy back then
and something I was friends with. Before
it grew its distance, grew its folds.

I've watched people wear their skins
as though its a warning. 'Do not approach!
Toxic if touched! Retreat, repeat! Be gone!'

And sometimes that pip's the forestry
of their lives. Trees of distance propping a sky
of solitude up until the very last drop

of living leafs these messy mythologies.
About moons being bubbles from forbidden
sticks of gum that dare a jumping from mouth

to thumb to endless escape and freedom.
Something too wild to risk a swallowing.

Something so wild in its always gallivanting.
Enticing and inviting in its orbiting, on and on.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Twilight & Polly Jean

Twilight & Polly Jean.

It's the snow mostly, and Polly Jean singing in the background. How sunlight through branches is apple gowks, how sunlight on the cop pond is fresh pillow cases. How they speak in puppy, all waggy and peculiar-breathed. And big, big eyes to feed.

"We smell it, you know that. Coming and coming, like the swifts, but not. Like whales swimming upside down, imagining themselves birds. And in the morning, we open, and it's here. Window-hugging, fence snogging. Please don’t love us."

Polly Jean makes everything shake. It could be an England thing, or not. Definitely with roots though, on a once walking thing. Like how the hills do it when no-one's looking. How they leap sometimes, and fold. The origami of a landscape, winding in the shoreline, winding in the sea.

"Do you know, how snow got its colour? Do you know about the flowers, and how they all said no? Until it asked the snowdrops? The kind, kind snowdrops with the doddery heads? And their bells? Gawd, there's always the bells..."

They’re the dreamers of dialects wearing old ghosts. The dreamers of crumbling castles and too much salt air. They’re falling leaves along the river, the glide of the ducks on the weir. They’re air and memories seeking the sanctuary of silence beneath bridges, the eddies of eternity inside a drowned student's lungs. The hair-ends on the man that rises the body as he whispers, 'You’re going home, lad. I'm here to take you home'.

"Out there in the storm, as the snow angels rebel and wail through the places where the Vikings once sang, there's meaning. The etch-a-sketch of winter, it knows. That's the reason it shakes our bones. There's pictures in the patterns. If you'll look, if you'll sing..."

Grass is pears. Summer leaves, they are too. Drystone walls are teeth in graves, overcoats on old men. Shadows are seacoal. Shadows are miners. They're lines around the eyes of sad boys pretending at happy. Long cardigans and wrapped up flesh.

Twilight is rainbow drops. Twilight is boxes of crayons. It’s caterpillar feet on miles of paper, a jumping in and out of paint at infant's school after dinner. Twilight is magic. It’s laughter set to its burning. The pulling tides of Polly Jean, conjuring ghosts along with the snow.