For those of you who don’t follow my ramblings on Twitter, I’m posting a link here to a piece I’ve written and which has been selected by C.C. O’Hanlon for publication on the website of Burning House Press. I recommend a leisurely browse around their site, where you’ll find a rich array of words and images that will lead you off, both geographically and emotionally, into other worlds.
My piece is entitled This is not a memorial, and other stories of remembrance, and you can read it here.
That late winter day, do you remember it still? The rain had passed, the sun was out and off we went, skipping work like a couple of truant teenagers, five or six miles up through the woods and back home along the vineyard trails.
We hardly said a word that afternoon, but later, when making some tea, you told me you’d kept your head high, your gaze wide. You talked to me about the sky that looked as if it had been painted by a young Yves Klein, about the little birds flitting in and out of the still dormant vines, about the light on the far-off sea. Only once, you said, did you kneel to ground, there where the white rocket flowers had colonized the field.
You were disappointed that I’d noticed none of these things, but courteous enough to listen when I compared the hole in the neighbour’s wall to the stoma in my belly — the Bocca della Verità, you said, shit will out. You carried on listening when I talked about how beautiful I found the still damp wood of the telegraph pole, the archipelago of algae on the rainwater puddle, the yolky lichen on the fallen mastic branch. Why didn’t you call me over? That was what you asked when I told you about the bitter almond flowers and the pawprint in the newly resurfaced track.
Not long after we went our separate ways. Your question haunts me still.
As a piece of graffiti it lacks artistry. The letters are prototypical, like those which children produce before their fine motor skills become a match for their imagination. Yet we are drawn in all the same, hooked by what is missing, by the lack at the heart of the message.
BEFORE I DIE I WANT THE
Was the author disturbed before the wish could be fully uttered? Did he – something about those letters tells me it was a he – flee of his own accord, racked by indecision in the face of life’s possibilities? Or is there, perhaps, a rogue Lacanian roaming the streets, having the last laugh and reminding us that desire is always a story without end.