From my colouring-book


from my colouring book


The muddy middle

We were in the garden with the boy who was ill – he was lying back on a supporting plastic frame, like the kind of toy car a child could sit in and pretend to be driving, but bigger. Michael had gone off to kill his mentors (he was last seen wielding a sword), because they’d stopped being friends with him: which was perhaps something – the being friends – that mentors shouldn’t do, and now perhaps they were re-establishing a necessary distance, all the more necessary as they were being hunted.

My friends were being a bit rough with the boy who was ill so I went over to stop them – “I’d have thought you’d have known better, been a bit more sensitive.” They’d started to take some of the mud out of the boy’s middle – it needed to be in there, some sort of fertilizer, in the box containing the water that it was submerged beneath, which kept it moist. So I started to scoop what they’d left on the grass back into the water, and hoped for the best.


On opening the book you find an unobservable secret, a reported departure.  Following, you lie by the pool, or visit the exceptional beach. There you read the book again, this history, which never had enough insights through its opening, its dream-charts: in these sleep many lovers, and you suffer again the pages as you go through them all.  Loafing in grave Morocco, you note how reality lets us shift.

When I come I tease the extremes that hang, and there drops some higher world. Then Summer seems an earthly edition in which mutely glorious holiday-stems branch themselves, and the art historians do all kinds of writing.  And those writings heave, yawn big and grey, divinely cracked and stolen, and so remove themselves to a wide ground which is a vacuum waiting on swathes of light.

Wine is poured and it fills an inescapable sense of bread while we are waiting for publishable studies of the new bed-fellows – and it ends the dry studying of the book, but sleepless elves invest you in wanting to see another edition which will, they say, include banks, chlorine, swimmers, golf, orgasms, paparazzi, openings – and so much more.


Waking beside the motorway

Waking beside the motorway we look intently at the traffic of winter set against the dawning realization of smoke, and then back at our failures, and then forward to the finishing-line of plastic; we shall see, if we close-off the failures immediately after looking at our supplies, how small any movement appears.

This is easily explained by the students of photography, according to whom a small ocean in the mouth occupies a certain sphere, a greater or lesser sphere in pub or office, whichever is seen to be nearer the coast.


If this is a headache turn the open road of fantasy towards the sister of a rumour and consider the history of visionary incidents in Renaissance offices, always seen as larger from the pub since a small office near crisis varies with the preparations or success of fantasies in different members of staff, just as the movement of the paper-towel varies in passing into brightness so as to appear to the cleaner.

A morbid story


I wasn’t really looking in the shop-window, I was listening to the children on the corner. They were about eight or nine, a boy and a girl. What got me interested was that the boy had said the word “mortuary”. When I listened in I found that he seemed to be taunting the girl, that she hadn’t known that there was a mortuary in the town; and I got the sense from his tone – which was knowing – that he was aiming for a kind of cruelty in doing this; what I imagined was (though this was not said) that the girl had recently experienced the death of a friend or relative, and the boy was reminding her of this.

They didn’t stay long. It occurred to me that I – like the girl – didn’t know there was a mortuary ‘in town’ (though in one way I did know – of course, there was bound to be one: perhaps ‘not knowing’ in this case means ‘not thinking about much’). As I wandered I thought about this, and wondered where it was, the mortuary (just repeating the word in my head was creepy). Then I remembered I needed to make an appointment to see a doctor, and the surgery was nearby, so I headed off there.

The design of the surgery is unusual: on entry you find yourself straight away in the waiting-room, confronted by chairs – for those waiting – against a wall of frosted glass behind which is the reception area. On this occasion as I entered I noticed that the place was empty, apart from a woman sat on one of the chairs. She was leaning forward and she held her head in her hands. Because of her hair, which was blonde-ish and short, I had the feeling I knew her, so I said “hello”. She lifted her head. I didn’t know her. She looked tired I thought. “Ah, you’re here,” she said. She stood up and offered her hand, which I took, though I didn’t mean that to indicate that I knew who she was. “I’m sorry,” she said, “usually they apply some make-up to make them look ok, but in this case they haven’t – I think they haven’t had the time as yet.” She walked over to the wall, a wall of filing-cabinets, and pulled one open, beckoning for me to come over and look inside.

The inside of the drawer seemed bigger than I’d imagined from the size of its front. I looked down at the body – “it’s my father-in-law,” I said. She didn’t say anything. I didn’t know what to say – “I’m sure he’d prefer it,” I said. She looked at me. “Not to have the make-up,” I said. We both turned to look at him again, and after a short while I noticed some movement in the face, around the mouth. I said to her, “he’s moving.”
Now his eyes were open and he was looking up at me. He looked angry. His mouth started to move as if he was speaking, but I couldn’t hear anything. “He’s moving,” I said again, “his mouth.” She looked at me and smiled – “no he isn’t” she said, with a look that suggested “I know that’s what you want to be the case, but it can’t happen – he’s dead.”

“I can see him moving,” I said – “either that or I’m going mad.” Her look indicated that the latter was the case.