Monday, 7 July 2008

Looking at birch bark

Scrolls, tightly spun. I tease you out. I want to read the stories in your secret patterns.

Code. Nature's ticker tape messages. The history written inside your skin. Shed. Discarded to the ground. Replaced with a new layer of life. I could tell your age, the fungi that has lived within you, the storms you have withstood - if only I knew what to look for.

Strange blobs and dashes. Almost a pattern, but not quite. You ask me -"What do you see there?", claiming that my reply will reveal the workings of my mind. I look and look, but all I see are strange blobs and dashes on a piece of birch bark. You have an odd expression on your face. I say nothing. I don't like you.

Graphic score of contemporary music. Avant-garde. Abstract. You wouldn't know the piece, but some of it's instruments would be familiar. There are rising flurries of westerlies, textures reminiscent of wayward scattered birdsong and a strange insistent barely audible creaking sound like awkward breath.

Map like a route between orange rocks. You might think you recognized that kind of rock formation from a walk you did in Spain all those years ago - the one that nearly killed you when the rain came down and you sat crying against a towering wall of rock, the only thing you could see. To avoid the terror you felt at feeling so lost, so invisible, so insignificant, so battered by the elements, you followed the lines etched by weather and wear and time with a cold shaking finger. When you are held captive in boring meetings, your finger seems to remember those patterns and traces them on the table, or scribbles them on the edges of a company notebook. 

Layers of old cracked paint gone pale and thin on a swinging gate to an abandoned house, left for years in the blast of rain and sun without a new coat.

Strange monkey mask face with huge eyes. Up to mischief and magic. A snake head emerging from a shape like a brain - a hint of the grotesque and the haunted.

A sheen of gold dust. Proof that fairies exist, leaving pathways to another world hidden away from normal view.

In my pocket - the jacket I haven't worn for a week, I find another tiny scroll. When I try to stretch out the coil, it flakes away into pieces.