thirteen images from the dark land


George CrumbToday it felt like winter. I haven’t felt much like writing. I think about Frankie every morning. I think about what to wear and whether to bother with makeup. I think about not much. I get downstairs, unmade up but presentable enough. Sylvie is usually sleeping on the newspaper on the kitchen table, curled up like a tiny woodland creature.

I consult my phone to work out my appointments for the day. A clear-ish schedule bodes well lately. It’s the season for tucking my feet under my desk. Big meetings make me a bit wide-eyed at the moment. They make me feel like maybe I should have bothered with makeup (if only I’d consulted my phone for my daily schedule before making the sometimes arbitrary call on facepaint).

In the weekend we biffed my broken 12 year-old filing cabinet. It had been sitting in our garden shed since forever, its runners buckled and awry, all the drop-files behaving badly, like malfunctioning coathangers or tipsy partygoers, impersonating vertical.

I rescued a lot of notes. I don’t even mean halfway practical lecture notes or cutesy school exercise books. I mean mind-boggling stuff like this.

I mean notes as old as – or older than – the filing cabinet itself. Maybe they should have been given up over the edge of the mucky Happy Valley precipice along with the warped beige husk of my old office storage system. There’s got to be some sort of catharsis in that, surely. (Like burning love letters in a metal drum at dusk once it’s become clear that the paper has outlived — for one person, at least — the very emotion that once upon a time brought the paper to life).

But they wouldn’t make such a satisfying metallic smacking sound as they hit rock bottom. They’d probably waft away halfheartedly on a putrid breeze. They’d snag themselves limply on the wire fence barricades, ensnared along with all the city’s forgotten grocery bags, just as pitifully diaphanous and flappy.

So, no, I didn’t sacrifice my bundle of notes to a new life of decomposition, unlikely bedfellows of whiteware and disposable nappies and hopelessly three-dimensional television sets. Instead I sat cross-legged in bed in the very early hours of the morning some days ago and attempted to type them out. It wasn’t that I wanted to preserve them. I just wanted to maybe get a handle on what the fuck they might have meant. To cut a long story short, I didn’t work out what the fuck they meant. I actually called it quits about halfway through the task (because I wanted to preserve myself).

But I did find some interesting stuff. Like this. Not some Rorschach experiment but my first forays down the Girl Cat path.

And some oblique things that may or may not have been intended as poems, like this:



you say words are over as soon
as we say them
& when we write them
the words are dead
before we even begin

you say
look at the pause
at the end of the line
it is the end of the line
you say
look at the way the dark print
in spaces
all around it there are spaces
that it cannot fill

we spill over
into the drumless beat
of sleep
& silence

I keep a box of words
under my pillow    you
keep a burr of quiet
on the tip of my tongue

you say
a page is
a cage that catches
nothing but itself
in its own hook
of letters

you say
this room
is hollow but
for our bodies
which will soon
be in some other room

& that none of the rooms
will remember us

but i only know this language

it is a driftnet
catching fireflies

it is an umbrella of
echoes & reflections

it stands between
me &
the sky

you have made
it into an origami heart
you have made
the surgery 2dimensional
& painless

& now we do not feel
anything we say
to each other we
don’t say
anything we feel
to each other

we live in the same city     one day

we will live in different cities
& the cities will not remember us

I imagine one day
we will live in different languages
rendered dumb
with this

whatever this is
so unsummupable, so enduringly papery


One Response to “thirteen images from the dark land”

  1. 1 Tony Robinson

    Wow. I didn’t know that finding ‘stuff,’ detritis and old jottings could lead to such an imaginative response! Maybe you should have a clean out more often!!
    I loved your reference to Sylvie as a ‘woodland creature.’
    Tony R

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