Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Situation

She was born with a few curses on her head, or so it would seem, of the variety that make the next world very easy and this world very hard. If you are of a holy and patient bent then you can call such curses merely different varieties of awareness.

In the winter, her family wrapped up the caravan and found an apartment in town in a nearly empty hotel. Her mother found a job in the hotel as a telephone operator which drove her father even further into madness. The hotel apartment had a bathtub which was very pleasing to everyone. Her father spent most night sitting in it, without water and fully clothed, writing in his notebook.

Her parents slept in the living room in a bed that folded down from the wall. She had her own room with a glass door leading to a balcony. At night, she pressed her whole body against the glass until she was shivering with cold. Although they only lived on the sixth floor, she had never lived so high in the air. Later, under the covers, she would feel the night sky still chapping and burning on her skin. She liked it there and prayed that winter would last a long time.

One night she dreamed of the bubble fairy in the film, but she was an enormous face in the sky with teeth the size of billboards. In the dreams the midget people were busy whitewashing the bubble fairy’s teeth, working themselves slowly down on window washer’s platforms suspended by hooks towards the top of the fairy’s gums. The fairy seemed to grow impatient and so sent them twirling through space with one swoop of her tongue. Then she opened her mouth and exhaled a gust of snow before catching the little people into her mouth again.

When the girl woke from this dream, she went to the balcony door and opened it. When she stepped onto the freezing iron railing, it was as if she were stepping on burning coals. She looked all around for the bubble fairy and instead saw the Mrs. Almquist, the Pastor’s wife, cycling down the street as if on a mission. Mrs. Almquist looked up as if she expected to find the small girl on the balcony the whole time. The girl nodded and climbed back into her room. She wondered if she would be in trouble soon.

Why does everyone hate the cold and the dark when it gives you the nice illusion that you are home? I need to practically freeze to death outside before I can feel that a house is home, but even then I usually know I’m fooling myself. I’ve never understood the word home. I’ve never had a feeling for it. It’s not exactly a blessing. I’ve lived in dozens and dozens of places in my life and I torturously walk them all on many nights when I can’t sleep. And most nights are nights when I can’t sleep. I know every staircase, window and door of every place and the way my body adjusted to meet them. And yet for all that, what has been the point of their imprint on my body? Was it just to gradually malform my body into the interesting lump that it’s become? No, not even that. But what sort of gift is this sort of awareness to me? There’s no place like home because there is no such place as home.

Just one house maybe. The one across from the little Lutheran church that looked like it emerged from the pages of a pop up book. The snow piled up so deeply in the winter that there was no getting out of the front door for weeks without plunging straight into a snowbank. But I could watch the church. I loved the sound of the one pathetic church bell, mostly because I knew that the little chubby choirmaster made it ring by jumping on the rope. Oh but I lie already. I didn’t care about the church or the choirmaster or the bell. Half the time I didn’t notice it ringing. Maybe I loved the house for other reasons, like I had a lover there and fed him pancakes or that I made my own spells up in the garden at night. But not really. Maybe it was home because I didn't die there. Because I can travel those ghost passages, so awful in other houses, with ease. Because I didn't die there.

Anagogic: office-blocks take the shapes of our frozen bodies in the snow

in the snow.

The Little Match Girl climbed to the blazing roof, snowfall into fire.

All the time.

Caught in flame the snow flakes became snow-fire wings; the Little Match Girl took two of the flakes & carefully, studiously,

stitched them to her


shoulder-blades. Up into the night sky she flew, until the night sky became invisible.

Lutheran chorale. The professor wrote instructions to the past, in the spaces under street names in a map of Uppsala. Urgently he instructed the past to uninvent music & to construct machines to “perfectly double & annihilate the human body such that it becomes a machine for the production of glass eyes for police horses & surplus value.”

Vladimir Mayakovsky, washing his throat in bloodied snow. The night sky had returned to itself, like a vast pincushion with the Little Match-girl hanging, impaled, from a star. Mayakovsky in a frenzy caresses her voice, hurls his body into the street. “Let’s say goodbye.” He says goodbye, it’s May time & no longer snowing

no longer snowing.*

Down on the street it’s dusk. The sky has a silky sheen, like a wrap slipping from my shoulders. I look good in this light. I smell like toast & marmalade & morphine. & weasel droppings. Yet the snow is spoiling my painted toes & the music from the Victrola infuriates me.

Who needs Lutheran chorales at a time like this?

Now the police horses race into the River Thames, whinnying & throwing their cyborg riders.

The boat set us ashore beside the great warehouses, among mud & snow & wrack. I had one thousand silver shillings & a bottle of whiskey in my overcoat pockets. She took my hands & let them go & said “you’d better follow me.” We made our way up the shivering slope, detritus caught in the wind crossing our path or blowing directly into our countenances. That was the strangest thing. The wind seemed to come from everywhere & nowhere. We paid for a night in a flophouse. A bare blanket on a narrow bed. All night we could hear a bell, clanging, & a small bell, trilling. Sometime towards dawn I must have slept. When I woke I was alone. I wiped my face with my handkerchief & drank three mouthfuls of whiskey. Then I curled up on the bed & watched the stars slowly pop, one after another, until there was nothing left to watch.

great circles

mercator projection

window change

car ploughs into nightclub crowd
couple dead after motorcycle crash
CCTV may identify double rapist
motorist kills as car overturns
bridge repair closes part of M56

all the arms
of the wind farm
turn around
but not together

we drove for miles
to find this place in 1976

I've a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore

scarecrows don't talk

I didn't usually wear ties
but that night I did. the situation demanded it
I was afraid not to.

visiting London makes my nose bleed
I drip drops in the shape of seas
the atlantic here, the pacific there,
the Baltic in my newspaper.

The roads aren't nice
or well behaved

I have saxons in the backgarden

Romans in the front.

You say
don't worry it will turn out right.

I sat back and painted the buildings change in watercolour

it rained and was such fun.

I couldn't stop.

*After Vladimir Mayakovsky, ‘Lilichka – May 26 1916, Petrograd'

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