You have many maps, but what use are they? Their folds contain no meaning. No laughter in the coppice. No evening light, laying softly on restful slopes. No wide eyes, gleaming in the green glossed night.
This is terrain that can be surveyed only through walking, delineated by the cartography of perception; muscle and organs repurposed to augur, clinometer and theodolite.
A place where memory, topography and ritual entwine, where the mind dissolves without a sound, bubbling in sensate effervescence.
This is every place and no place.
It’s beyond you, the workings of it, beyond reason itself. That you could just walk out here, past the limits of material circumstance.
To walk through this darkness, striding towards the bruised horizon, your shipmates ahead, pillaring a golden slash of roiling sky, silhouetted in sentry at the wind’s gate.
To sail this rippling green sea, bobbing in pacific eddy, askew on infinite canted planes. Tacking across the long feathered fetch of land with perfect trim.
To catch the swell. To be pitched to the crest of the ninth wave, to climb the mast and stand level with the mountaintops, alight with blue fire.
Freed by the gnosis of coincidence, free to rise, to feel the pulse, the depths rise within you. The valley buckling upwards, bearing you aloft.
Free to vanish whole, to decohere, to be swallowed by the glitchscape, digested by pixel and artefact in hysterical compression.
All those tiny motions in space that brought you here to this. A cumulative, massless momentum, defiant of all accounting. Erratic arcs of incidence, warped by happenstance to perverse configurations.
Ripples on ripples. An interference pattern. An ecphoric repetition of singular ritual; engrams, skewer stacked, smudged with soot and tallow and white ash.
This conjurer’s trick, this kindling of old embers. The spark and sudden whoosh of flame. A spectacular efflorescence of sensation. An impossible grace line of smoke and chiaroscuro sky, etched with ragged stylus, wrought anew by glucose, love and madness. Sealed in moonlit mezzotint by flare and fuse and rocket’s salute.
This is it. The moment you hate – though it’s not really a moment, more of a membrane, a meniscus that stretches before you until suddenly you’re through and out. Exposed and vulnerable under the streetlights. Baffled by the silken sheen of tarmac.
It’s a bad place, but if you really want to go there it’s easy to get to. Just walk out of the green and cross the old bridge. Then head straight down the trauma line.
Before you know it you’ll arrive, shambling into a dawn of the dead-eyed.
It’s not something you do on a whim, this thing.But there are times when you feel the call and could almost run straight there, barefoot.The first days of May with their promise of blossoms on the low paths. The azure haze of an August morning when you know that later the ground will be dry and the moon warm in the sky.Clear October nights when you recall your old routes to that place, the smell of bonfires as you cycled past the flats, heedless of the cold, enrapt.
In the sweep of the lighthouse you see the stretch of water separating you from the other coast, unlinked to this remote shore, where twenty years of memories come crashing down, ever changing, but linked by a thread of friendship, welcomed by an extant ritual which you make yours, with myriad gradients of feeling and emotion, felt deeply on these walks on the edge of kairos.
Always looking for a new way to tackle the terroir, these very familiar grounds that reveal something new about us, about you, The camaraderie of music and excess that takes you rolling down hills, all too aware of cliff edges ahead, to ascending, almost, from rocky outcrops, when the wind picks up your coat.
And the gorse. What to say about its rambles? The possibility of a revelation if only you can clear the next outcrop, needles stinging your ankles, pricking your very core as you fall right into it, only to get up and trudge along anxiously, to peak at the red light, where you realise you’re not alone, the rest of the posse close by, manic, ensuring no one gets left behind.
Just one more minute to take in the view, the dark night.
Everything here is an invitation. The tender and tremulous green of leaves, the pines, jeweled with a million flaming points. Jets of young trees budding through a splendid mantle of fallen blooms, golden rocks and quivering ferns.
Staffs of slim silver birch, hollow nestled blossoms, music; oozing into you like liquid crystal, permeating your spirit with gentle warmth.
The group splits, cycling wearily off through the arteries of the city to beds or sofas. Your friend has another plan though, to cut back along the coast to where the night began.
On that outcrop, above a pixelated lo-fi sea, you seize the chance for one last moment. Synchronising to the same song, you dance together in spirals of spray and the fumbling of surf, hands waggling to high hats, feet shuffling to the bassline, fists whirling to a Cthulhian kick drum, palms aloft when the synths drop.
One song is enough. You head for leaba, pedals twirling. Wary of our star’s ascent, but nurturing your own nebula within.
Fire came this year, cleaving the head. You trace the margins of its scar, walking the stone border through the bog in silence. On one side, heather and prickly gorse, flowers gray in the night, on the other; burnt earth, spectral, ossified stalks. Ashes.
Utter stillness when you reach the cairn. No wind moving in the dark. Frozen cones of light below, the harbour becalmed in queer doldrum. You sit, perched on the threshold of another trembling world, suspended in the resin of time, congealed in neolithic jelly.
Ambergris to the hill.
Scatter me there
if ever I die.
Become that transparent eyeball you aspire to be.
Forget that you are so that you might see.
Volant moon pulled taut to mount straddl’d vale.
Paled balloon hung in perfect plumb.
Scraggy drumlin drumlicked by moontongue.
You could do it in the woods, fireside to singing brass and leaf’s susurrated sigh.
Or at the shed under waning crescent moon, gold against a blushing sky.
Or you could do it in this place, where the sea’s breath gasps and the pipes fly high.
Wanton winds hoved, funneled to vortical joy.
Walking a high narrow bank in single file, treetops below.
A glimpse through a gap in the foliage of the moon over water, wreathed in red smoke.
From up on the hill, you survey the heat map of anxieties below. Then the city loosens its grip and you start to breathe again.
You are free of it now. Beyond it.
And so, so, over it.
Go high in the summer at dusk. Step quietly along narrow green paths through the heather.
You’ll see hares in drove, a frog’s ripple in blue water, sly russet shadows in entangled thicket. You’ll hear the stone chat, the willow warble, all the little voices of the heath. A twilight language of demure rustles and tiny whispers.
And then the hills, dripping with sunset. Gold light bronzing the grass. Swift traces arcing through pewter skies.
Moonrise, bright as the dawn.
As the rain subsides you emerge in drizzle to a watercolour landscape. Thick strokes of ochre and grey sienna underfoot. Blotter paper sky of cyan, pink and orange, as if a loaded brush had dropped blobs of undiluted colour to the page as you sheltered.
This sequence, this designation. A recurring theme, a knot, set and augmented by voice and inversion. Homebound, in constant pursuit of the original route, that passage of love and grief and tone and cadence. A home for head and for hearth.
This dreamspun succour, uncovered by the dip of sun, the rush of stars. Inescapable, unbound by resolution in form. It is in the seeking that we find. This, our haven, our home, our ark. We hang our hats, at rest in grateful lament, slumped in red-eyed tribute.
Home, if nothing else, we can call this home.
A balmy night, windless in the valley. You begin the ceremony, cue up the song, synchronise or split the signal and tether to your companion. This eerie, doleful melody. Reverb. Drums barely there. In another place it would be a lament but here it is a psalm, music that belongs so completely it might have sprung wild from the heath, brother to birch, bracken, and heather.
Then, like voyagers taking their first steps on a perfect new world, you walk. Ambling in blissful fellowship and quiet wonder. You sink into the carpeted terrain as your souls simmer gently in the boundless envelopment of viscid night, steam leaking slowly from your boots.