Monday, 3 May 2010

It doesn't matter.

Soft bricks mesh silently with shadows and angular metal lampposts along a quiet street. The tarmac road curves gently down the slope of the hill, like toffee or butter or ice-cream that slipped from some giant child’s hand, and coursed away before it could be stopped. Simple grass verges line the edges of this thoroughfare, the occasional tree, like a pillar of wood springing up amidst its smaller greener cousins, supporting the soft velvet of the sky with its sturdy, spider web strung branches.

On the edges of this simple suburban lane, houses lie, each one a different experiment, another way of making the word ‘home’ real out of rock and wires and whitewash. On the top of one, simple red slates have been turned the colour of blood mixed with silt in the cover of night, and their routine shapes, their regular simple squares, have become the feathers of a wing belonging to a silent roosting bird. The windows of another house have shifted into shields with the drawing of the curtains; the entrance way of the eyes into the house barred by sheer white fabric, warped grey in the lingering twilight that drifts like the last smoke of a cigar in a country club; genteel, refined and unpredictable, wandering through the streets.

Walk on now a little further, let your legs carry you along the pitted speckled pavements that lie beneath your feet. Can you feel it through the soles of your soft thin shoes? Can you feel the simple bumps and rises and ridges that jumped and leapt from cement mixers through the air, then fell and settled motionless? The veins of newer darker smoother flooring have spread over the cracks, covering the scars where pipes have been slipped into the body of the earth. Can you feel it beneath your striding shoes? The gentle thrum of generators, the simple beat and buzz of power, so sibilant and gentle, you might almost think it was the floor beneath you breathing.

But we’ve paused long enough. Now walk on further.

Pass the edge of the road, and cross over, careful now though, careful of the eddies and flurries of human current, the roaring traffic and the splinters of silence it hurls outward, then careers off, the drone lingering behind and to the side of it’s wake, inside the fumes it spread. You’ve crossed the road now and you’re on the other side. A simple brick wall rises up in front, ahead. Dull old stones, not even bricks really, just the tears of some ancient, weary dinosaur, twisted by pressure and heat and coiling time, until they’re contradictory rectangular globes, heaped and piled upon each other and held together with glue. You grasp the top of the wall, hands splayed, fingers spread out like nets catching a grip inside them; you tense and strain the cords inside you, as muscles creak and you vault in one awkward moment over.

And land in sand so unexpected beneath shoes; shoes were not meant to walk on sand, you realise, understanding this in the same instant the sound of the first gentle wave laps up over the grains and into your head. You slip off your shoes in a shrug of motion, kick them off and smile, and dig your toes down beneath the tiny worlds of fine golden dust and take root like a tree for an moment. Your eyes are stretching out across the vista of roiling darkness, and for an instant all you can see is ink; black inks and grey inks, and purple-navy-silver inks and tiny bubbles of white ink riding atop it all, and you feel like you would paint the entire world in these colours, these shades of brilliant oceans that have draped themselves across it.  Civilisation, suburbs, all the tiny spots of light from the lampposts are no longer real here. They don’t matter.

As you stand here looking out you feel like you’re at the end of the world, as if, as if should your foot stretch out then it will end, it will cease to stay real and drift apart into the deep black infinity that is so silkily lapping upon the sand. The water is nearly at your feet. You sit down upon the sand and smile as the sea touches your toes. It doesn’t matter at the moment, because at the moment, you are in the place you would like to be.

It doesn’t matter.

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