Samsara texts to say she will pick up the Keats in person ... or at least that's what I understand when I put the bits together and try to reconstitute what might have been in the many gaps. I think she lives in a parallel universe or some such and manifesting in this one is difficult and can only occur when windows of opportunity open. The venue is in another city and the time flexible within certain parameters. I catch the train and go there; but the closer I get the more erratic communication becomes and by the time I reach the rendezvous point in the Amethyst Room - blue and purple glass, rich carpets, a print from the Floating World - she is uncontactable and I have to assume I'm not getting her messages either. Not even fragments. I go for a walk around the district ... on Obelisk Hill there is a wedding in progress. Well, I think it is a wedding. Men in black with beers and wrap around shades, women in diaphanous pastel dresses. I feel like a spare prick there so I carry on. On the way down, a dead starling on the stairs, how did I miss that before? Iridescence fading already from its green dark feathers. They always make me think of birds in Hieronymus Bosch paintings. Across the road the bowling green has been invaded by weeds, the club house is derelict and broken-windowed, you can see the blue sea beyond where big freighters are waiting to load up dirty coal. The epidemiology lab over the way is a round rusting corrugated iron spaceship, there are crystalline bio-organisms mutating in rifts in the concrete of the defunct launchpad. I climb up to Christ Church on a seaward slope of the hill, a vast haunted red brick pile from 1902. The old graves around the back are jammed up against the fence, the legends mostly unreadable. Many died young. Several of them bear my name. I would like to think that their ghosts go with me back down the hill past the Victorian courthouse and the brutalist police station but no. I'm in the Grand, listening to a reggae band singing Mysterious Girl, watching the cricket from India and working my way through a half way decent cabernet when she comes around in her private world of white / unearthly force descending out of light / into the Romantic south. Once the dazzle clears I realise she is different from before; her eyes no longer violet but obsidian black and glinting with mischief or glee; her skin even whiter than I remember; tattooed across one shoulder a tracery of pale red flowers that seems to be moving. She laughs and says that tattoos in her world are 3D and kinetic and a shadow of her latest must have come across with her. As she adjusts her black lacy top to conceal it, I push the Keats across the table and ask why? The gold letters on the spine flare slightly as she takes the book in hand but doesn't open it. Some things are proscribed, she explains, in my world, they make us feel too much. I heard that Moksha had someone else banished for reading Keats and so began to wonder who he was. She seems nervous as she says this and indeed the time we spend together is interrupted several times by messages that she has to take and then work to ignore: as if they (who?) are on her trail but I don't say anything about that, I'm simply delirious that we're together. At the restaurant the food is delectable and the wine umbrageous, it really is. She takes a spatchcock in her hands and rips the delicate flesh from the bones with her white teeth. My entree is calamari, a single tube stuffed with meat croutons and looking like a sperm whale's tooth; no, a penis she remarks just as my knife slices off the head. We laugh and that's how it goes for a while but they're getting too close and we can't stay for dessert or coffee. Outside in the gloom we're crossing the road when a bus comes round the corner and she says quick, let's get on. We are the only passengers riding like Lord and Lady Muck down Glebe Street. It is six years, she confides, since I found anyone willing to let me come across like this. In the smoking room she touches with the palms of her hands the fine curling outspread points of my hair as if restoring my aura, all the time whispering soft, so soft ... I stand still in wonder and all the other reprobates and degenerates in there pause to watch as well. Later, after I walk her back up the hill to where we will part there is a moment in which, on that green slope of half dark grass, I bow as if I were indeed some kind of lord, she makes a graceful courtesy in return and then she's gone like she was never there at all. I'm just falling asleep in the Amethyst Room when a breeze from off the sea bells the curtains and in the brief light I watch across my naked shoulder a mazy pattern of pale red flowers falling.


Mary McCallum said...


Elisabeth said...

I agree with Mary McCallum. This writing, Martin, is delicious and haunting, a mix of past and present, present and future, haunting and beguiling.

Martin Edmond said...

"John Keats was a rolling stone too" (AB)