Flat grey abstract.

October 20, 2007 at 4:47 pm | Posted in writing | 12 Comments
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The big silver car pulls in off the highway and stops at the very apex of the crescent driveway. He steps out, over the low barrier and down to the edge of the muddy still lake and kneels. The pants of his grey suit are immediately ruined by the textures and earth colours of the mud from which spiny rushes grow. He takes from the inside pocket of his jacket a letter. Reads the addressee, himself. Turns it over, reads the sender. From the other side of the lake, from behind the hills on the other side of the lake, drifts lazily the sound of a gunshot echo. He tears the letter in half and in half again. Plunges his hands holding the letter deep into the mud at his knees. To the elbows he plunges them and then slowly with slurping sound effects removes them and his hands are now empty and the letter remains elbowdeep beneath the mud. And magic, all the weird pieces of him reformed. Forming like the sullen sky the perfect sheet of sorrow, like the damp ground the comfiest mattress of despair. A white bird, not a heron, takes off from the opposite edge of the lake and flies across its surface like an arrow.

It is nighttime and the park is a place without light but not without motion. All manner of life continues, soft rain vibrates the leaves of the rushes and insects sing as insects do. The letter, its purpose served though it remains unread by its recipient, has begun the process of reintegration with the earth. And if we were to stand here, the dark close around us like armour, we would hallucinate the voices. In argument hear them struggle to be heard. Perhaps her anxiety shows in the way she runs her hands through her long hair or lights another cigarette or crosses her long legs. Even in this, as alive as they ever have been, they are still bored. See their child sneak to the toilet to cry again. And if we were to invent a tragedy for them, some life shattering, awful coincidence, would it bring them closer together do you think or would the wounds merely make it harder for each to recognise the other.

A Saturday morning and the park is full. The world abounds in the sounds of mosquitoes. There is that big silver car again. He is sitting in it, windows wound up. His head is tilted on the headrest but there is no sound of his snore just a strange circular shadow on his temple. Fathers start barbecues. Mothers run their hands through their hair and hope the rain stays away. Children are hunting for that frog who throws his voice so cleverly. A white bird, not a heron, takes off from the opposite edge of the lake and flies through the flat grey ceiling of the world like an arrow aimed at the sun.


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  1. You’ve built up the melancholy atmosphere really well here. I like the repeated appearance of the whate bird at the end

  2. Very nice – some very strong metaphors, there is much aura here…


  3. wow, paul, this is newyou most precise writing and images, beautiful writing,
    you built it on mud but it’s still growing in height and solidity through the dark
    i think this may be the first piece of yours which does not feel like the end…

  4. the end, in a good way
    more please

  5. Eerie . . . Haunting . . .

  6. Stanza two is like the Heaney I’ve been reading all week (he’s a favourite). I enjoyed this, it’s very well crafted.

  7. This is one of my favorites of yours. Haunting – yes. It has such an intensity to it that you can feel the mud, the gunshot, the weight of it all.

  8. This is a very good post.

  9. Oh, so well done. The white bird, not a heron, brings me up each time. The layers are marvelous, small perfect phrases are visually rewarding.

  10. Ooh, how very tragic and melancholy and bleak! Maybe the letter might have made a difference. For me, I find it impossible to resist reading letters, even when they’re too little, too late. You’ve told this dark tale in a little beacon of light, with the white bird and references to routine.

  11. Holding my breath, wondering where the next sentence would take me. A great piece and take on letters never read…

  12. I think when you hear it read the hinge, the pivot, the acoustical association in the backbrain, sun and son, is made more effective, I think, maybe, anyway note to me, this piece has been podcast, but you will probably will want to do it again,

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