Tuesday 30 January 2024

Segments #1, Winter 2024

Jack, holding a cruffin

You hold the cruffin there in your hand, domed with meringue. Inside I know is lemon curd and folds of pastry. It is your new favourite; you usually buy three at a time. I spent fifteen quid on croissants, you said to me, and really you sounded like a dad, like a loveable dad, like a dad I know is there, just behind the ribs. You with a face so pleased, with your kind sloping eyebrows, your ever so kind smile, that look on your face: sated, placid, serene.

Outside the day is bright and boasting. We have a carpet of leaves by our front step, a carpet of leaves all the colour of autumn, all the crispness of dried tea in a bowl on a shelf that smells of cinnamon. Your legs, muscled, bent, in some kind of wide-stanced celebration, a smug frog kind of gesture. I would like to make you desserts but I get nervous if I have to measure. Those verbs - the ones like simmer, the ones like char - they indicate to me a right and a wrong way, they indicate to me a hidden failure.

I said, when I asked you to pose, look pleased! I am terrible at taking pictures, that’s why I rarely do. I’m terrible at taking nice clean steady ones because my hands have the tendency to shake, they come out in a blur. We are not a picture-taking couple though we pose from time to time. When I’m drunk I demand selfies. I like to look at our faces together, gleaming with champagne, on occasion.

You, in your tight gym clothes, your blue shorts and hat. You, the one who is home, the one who is solid, the one who spreads consistency, seeps into the avenues of my days like mercury, but warm.

You love sweet things, as do I. We have different tastes, though. You like berry-sweet custard cream. Puff pastry, shortcrust. I like coffee, chocolate, banoffee. I like ganache and oozing. I like dense.

We enjoy simple things together. We have our worlds and we love to judge, though ultimately we are kind.

I wish I was the one to make dessert sometimes, set a timer, fill the house with the warm smell of butter. I could be flour-stained, I could be adept at spotting when the cake’s reached golden. I wish I could serve you new inventions laid out on trays. I make you tea instead and I gladly eat your inventions, your staples, your stews.

What we do is we cook in our own ways and we feed each other and there’s nothing more to it. 


When I was little

When I was little I believed that rocks were living beings. I believed that there was a fresh and instant magic that meandered through the mountains in the shape of streams and that silent, certain mysteries lay in empty fields and at riverbanks: fairies, and grander secrets — tales. 

I believed I could be anyone and I often believed I was an orphan, walking the gale-blown landscape looking for shelter, trying to find someone that would take me in, anyone, and I’d cry, walking home in the evening in winter, eating handfuls of snow, the freezing wet powder a sort of quenching.

When I was little I believed I was special. My father told me I was beautiful, or would be, when I was older.


That’s how I got here

I remember the green, green grass; the lofty veil; the world between us. 

The aching gap between father and child, the woeful trying of the mother. 

The woeful effort of the ancestors, as they used all their energy and power to influence the making of the child, to infuse all its being with existence, with a friendly sense of place and home, urging its being to resist the tide, the flow, the aching inclination to thunder into ruin; to be in place, to be put into place, to be near a place, to stake a finger into the earth tentatively, stake a hand: the flag of flesh signaling I’m here, I’m here.

Claiming; the fanfare of aliveness. 

The ancestors begged their ancestors before: let us, let the child live, let us, let her live, let us, let her live.

Let us, let the child live. 


My Queendom 

Domes laced with gold. Walls with nooks and crannies. Blue paint, all around. A jungle of fragrant fruit, monkeys. 

There would be a religion, it would be called Magical Realism. It would mean that everyone, everyone, would worship the beauty and the majesty of the everyday. Simple systems, such as the sunrise and sunset, would be perceived as magic. There would be a reverence for murmurations of birds, the tinkle of a stream, time passing by, the many stories told by our ancestors, and everything there is yet to know. 

We are a peaceful yet raucous people. We do not fight, there is no violence, but we argue spectacularly. We encourage debates and differing viewpoints. 

There is always lots to see. Down cobbled streets, hanging plants, vines growing in and out of open doorways. People don’t close their doors, you can catch wafts of cooking, warm, sweet smells and clanging of metal, and a chorus singing, and a tuning guitar. 

There is one law, and that is: you must find your life’s purpose and you must dedicate yourself to it, and that is how you contribute, that is your work. There is no money, only the promise to share your gifts. You may be a deep thinker, needing years alone living on a cliff edge, surviving off food packages delivered by a young cook. You are supported, because our belief is that everyone will be taken care of, we are a living organism made up of manifold particles, we are a joined-up and symbiotic system, we bow down to the mysteries and we trust them. 

There is freedom here, and there is respect. Because everyone is free to be exactly who they are, no one feels hurt or hard done by. There is still pain because pain is the necessary golden poison that runs through all endeavors - pain induces change, change is the very air that we breathe. 

All around the city is jungle. Tall trees, popping flowers, long stems and gnarled roots. Animals: parrots, monkeys, leopards. Cats all around the buildings, the cats are our co-habitants. They aren’t owned by anyone. 

We are known for our festivities: every week we have time to enjoy, to rest, it is at the heart of our community. Indulgence, celebration, freedom. Lights everywhere. Ever-burning candles through the night. The moon shines as bright as the sun and casts a clear silver balm across all who sleep - some are night owls and so tinker away in libraries or frolic in underground tunnels. 

We grow the finest coffee, plates of olives, soft hearty bread, grilled seafood, sparkling wine. 

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