Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Halloween Tale 2018

A Midnight Mermaid

One eye opens. Lines of light drop between each beam’s shadow.
That repetitive shoosh becomes sand dragging under waves.
This is the beach house.

Beyond the conservatory roof is the moon, it has pulled the tide high.

Your feet want to be on the sand, it’s all you think of - that beach, that light, how it catches the tilt of the sea. The salt tang. The feel of sand under bare feet.
So your feet go to the floor, your arms pull into a gown, your palm presses the door handle.

Outside is exactly right. Silvered, doused in magic.
Shoosh, shoosh.
A warm press from the air. The press of your feet in cooling sand.
There in the white break something rolls, fluid as the water, shining.
A hand spills from the wave, a shining hand.
The shock is a thrill. This is night magic, you are sure of it.
You crouch; creep closer.

Strands of hair flow in, flow out.
A figure slender, dense with muscle.
Arms, shoulders, skin taut over ribs, a waist that morphs into fish.
Is it?
You reach your fingers out to touch fine scales on an upper arm.
Fish skin, part human; the body rolls.
All the light is outside, it glints off.
This face is configured as yours is: eyes, nose, mouth. Eyelashes, eyebrows. Lips, bow shaped.
Glassy eyes, unseeing, with some unhuman tint.
Teeth thin, sharp: fish teeth.
Not bones, these ribs, the roll is too light - they are.. cartilage?
Gill slits under each ear. Ears close to the head, small like they would close up underwater.
In the tail nothing resembles legs - this, this is all piscine, pristine, some kind of emerald that lived and swam and even the cloaca is placed like a gem.
Strands of hair flow everywhere, mesmerising, swirling over blurring edges.
Yes: the edges are coming undone - coming from flesh to flecks, bioluminescent flickers that slick back out over the waves.
The skin is all gone, just like that.
Muscles twist, foam, slick out.
Skeletal structure reveals, disappears.
Slippery innards just the same.
Each piece of it amazing - weird - gone.
Your knees hurt. You stand up.
Rainbow colours shimmer out, flow like hair, slowly, slowly, shift, disperse.
You turn your palms up. A fleck of scale on your fingertip.
Deeply breathing an oily-seaweed scent.
Slow-heavy repeat of the surf.
So tired.

And when the sun later spears into your dreams?
You can feel that there is sand on your feet, you can see that the fine scale has gone from your touch, and that is all you can know.

Saturday, 20 October 2018


plastic witch on display in front of tonnes more plastic

In supermarkets Halloween summons pumpkins to the vegetable aisle.
It conjures all kinds of hellish plastic in mass display - the ephemeral becoming eternal and choking our world, accompanied by organ chords and the vocals of Vincent Price. 

I have been unthinkingly complicit in the past, short on cash and full of joy. 
In the cupboards here still are plastic pots and a scoop for carving. A skull necklace menaces from a door knob. 
There have been multiples of cardboard skeletons, paper spiders, vats and vats of pumpkin soup too; recycling into food is (maybe) my favourite kind. 

Love the celebration, despair of the waste; this is Halloween, and every day - beyond the eyeless stares and trails of bony fingers there are shelves and shelves, aisles and warehouses, full of packages of things we mostly do not need; things that have travelled more than most of us, that have been churned from leaky factories, things that make 'processed' a dirty word. 
Easy to feel yourself washed away, to feel joy paling, to feel nostalgic for when you could - with a light and easy heart - buy anything. 

Away from shops, away from daylight, out by the fire-pit and under the stars: here Halloween stirs differently. It stirs deep, waking up old bones. It calls to our grief, our losses. 
Things change, it says. 
Everything can change. 
Sometimes in the dark you plot your best course, for you do not see everything all at once.
Keep your desire to celebrate, keep the soup, the love, let this guide you step by step. Some steps will be well meant and wrong - curve it to learn. Some steps will be correct and terribly dull - all part of a bigger rhythm. 

Each log dropped in is rendered to ash. 
Tomorrow the ash can be raked up, put aside for plant food - or mixed with water and painted on skin before we dance naked into the nearest body of wild water. 

This fire pit used to be a washing machine drum, and a lorry wheel.

The joy of Halloween!

Monday, 15 October 2018

Wildcat Wind

Not a hurricane, not a typhoon, this storm - a tree feller still, a pouncing wave maker.
Through it drives my little car, my mouse-white car, half hid in leaf, scuffing wheel trim on twigs; around the clumped earth on fresh underside of oak root, bumping down a wind tunnel of branches. Out and back the little car goes, lost in rain and road spray.
I too am lost: busy, distracted. Long hours, long lists.
Between frost and hot, lately, the weather has wandered. Tomato plants lost to the usual dose of late blight, the cucumber vine on last days, flower rot blooming. Chillies are popping out, speedy and spicy and filling the dehydrator rack: pods of winter warmth awaiting.
Earlier I had lain in the hammock, duvet wrapped, listening to bird song, to leaves quiver.
They say that winter will come hard, four months without reprieve.
So in the car I sit, parked away from stray roof slates, eyes closed, and the wildcat wind is not cold and I remember to love the heft of it.
Here again I find myself. A moment: then, check the list: the next thing.