Friday, 8 March 2013


Make no mistake I keep my enemies close to me, always carry a mirror with me so I can see their reflection. See the reflection of the greatest warrior clothed as I am clothed, with intimations as mine. Speak mimic. This is the constant rise and fall, this is the fall out of consequence. My mouth is a gun, I have no inclination for Russian roulette, lest I forget the long road we have travelled from there to here. Hear the declaration of insolence written on the body. Written under the star kissed skies.

We wake to drums in the distance, calling workers to their labour, wives away from husbands and children from the embrace of family. There are bricks to be made in the wilderness. Men to their knees in water digging clay with spades, the mechanics of industry do not reach this far. Plumes of smoke rise up from the kilns, fired constantly for years. Home fires may have cooled, to damp ash, shovelled by infants whose mothers stack damp kindling wet with tears. There is a pretty violet bruise painted under her left eye. My finger touches the swelling. There is too much noise, the grating, hammering violence against the earth. Kiln pond is stained by the wealth of London. We built her here before she rose in stacks, chimneys and towers.

The cold seeps into you, gentle at first, so not to rouse suspicion. Clings to the internal rafters of your being spinning intricate webs of hoarfrost. The cellular design of my person is not inclined to withstand your violence, I have no knowledge of who built me or how. I have not long known the mechanics of biology. Did you speak my name across the meadows before I walked to where you laid. Pine cones lay as litter, my feet have learnt to mould around their shape. I tried eating them but found their bitterness to similar to the love my Mother fed me. We are all starved of something, the trick is to know what you are missing and where to forage to find your own sense of sustenance.

I suspect it is an unhappy machine that carves the land with its broken iron teeth. Or an unhappy woman that carves the flesh from her skin with the paring knife while peeling potatoes. Our reality, is diluted as it runs from us into dirty water full of peelings. There is only so much we can carve ourselves before we hit bone. Then we are faced with the truth white and solid, knitted with calcium, connective tissue that feeds the source from the source. We are cannibalistic in our transfiguration. My father picks his teeth the rib of a rabbit whose neck he broke to feed us as the ground cursed the sky. Cloudless the unsympathetic midwinter came heavy and lay for months across the fields. Birds descend frozen from beech trees long stripped of their leave.

My fingers wrapped in plastics bags for the warmth of sweat laid them out one by one upon the pyre of imagination. Often I have burnt myself with its delirium. Their wings I unpinned from the ground, staked with pine needles my brother had stabbed through their mechanism of locomotion. How can they fly when welded to the loam. Even in death his violence could not retreat to allow grief to swell and spirits to find their own destination. Each head I kissed, damp lips fusing to feathers. I had so little language I could not muster a prayer and my faith had long departed with the warmth of summer. Some had lost legs upon falling, I fashioned new limbs from twigs, sized to proportions.

They cannot walk and I cannot fly. Why is remembering always washed in the blue tone of winter, when our internal axis tilts furthest from the conviviality of the sun.

Copyright:Samantha Ledger 2013

Larkspur & Sulphur

The ambition for freedom broke out of my heart the moment his broken calloused hands wrapped around mine bidding me farewell. Well wishes with a tone of defence and ego tasted bitter on my tongue as they passed into my mouth, across my lips. He has rowed and rowed his way from across the continent, which seems odd considering it is mostly land, speckled with mountain ranges and olive groves.  Perhaps he has a fear of horses or is too tall to straddle the tamed beast.  His linguistics hum in his upper resonating chamber, close around themselves giving his voice that clipped, stunted foreign sound. We have always been fearful of foreigners, who wear our ways and customs but hold deep within themselves a sense of contempt. I see his contempt and he knows it. This has gone unspoken for what seems like a life time, our battle wearied bodies would drip with sweat had we not fought in verbal bouts. The inflection contained the violence. Everyone saw is, no one spoke.

When I was a child travellers with their unwashed and unschooled children used to settle in the meadows, before the silver birch saplings grew too high and thick. Plumes of smoke would rise from small fires, with copper kettles resting on white hot coals. I used to smuggle biscuits to the horse tied to his metal steak driven into the soft ground. Round and round he ambled until the earth shone through the thinned grass. It's strange the fear you have of freedom, or is the fear of recrimination from your captors should you attempt escape. He stayed when he could have pulled that rod of iron from that sod. I remained silent when I could have spoken up. A wash of exhaustion floods you when fighting to survive from sunrise to sunset. Or dusk till dawn. Unimaginable are the horrors that lurk in the shadows cast by daylight, as disturbing as those decaying in the depth of night.  My Mother said, never to speak to them, the women, the children, never the men. They used to come to us for water, from the outside tap, filling their plastic gallon barrels. There is only so far popularity will carry you before the neighbours patience wears thin. But we were the only house that never had anything stolen. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

How do you discern one from the other across the rising haze of a hot summer day. Grass, tinder dry holds a threatening menace not seen in spring. Everyone walks as a collective, holding their breath fearing an exhalation will cause the fatal spark.

It spreads like wildfire. a plague, and each of us is tainted by the sulphur and soot.

Love burns under your skin so its scars cannot be seen by the naked eye. Not until you peel back your flesh for examination. He says there should always be examination.  But I'm starting to wonder how many different ways can you say the same thing. It is the same story, no matter what accent you tell it in. And it’s always the ends of the words that suffer, that are left out, left behind on the class room floor. Left to be swept by the aged caretaker that you have been told you are related too. This makes him dangerous. He cuts up oranges and apples for children to share at playtime with a paring knife. This would not happen now. Clearly I am carbon dating myself. Would you believe I am old enough to have schooled when the desks were still wooden with flip tops and ink wells. Perhaps we were just less progressive that other places. Stuck in the wrong decade. Or the right one.

We walked in the cool of the morning, shoes polished, through the woods and down a lane heavy with catkins and larkspur. Toward the promise of an education. Yet I never mastered the written word or read a book beginning to end. My shy simplicity provoked a tut and shrug, without the question of why. At the end of spring, when it was warm enough we walked to the marsh, removed our shoes and socks to wade ankle deep in clear water. My mother stood at the edge with an open
bag as we scoped handfuls of sopping wet moss. They used to lay it over open wounds, until it grew itself into the skin, growing over the torn flesh. The traveller women told me one night when I slipped from my bed to sleep in the safety of a sweaty and sooted chest of hot flesh and love. You needed no biology to earn salvation. No God. They were the pirates of landmass and wastelands.

The cries are the night jar mingled with the screams of a vixen caught in meadow abandoned by the travellers, her body wrapped in barbed wire. The horse still walked in circles maddening itself back to sanity. Old and knackered they could have sold it for glue. I could have stuck my drawing into my school book without ever knowing. Something’s are better left to fall into disgrace, to crumble into a shadow of what it once was. We are all broken images of ourselves, stuck back together with horse glue and stories or promises we made to ourselves. To others; our lovers, our children.

My memories are held in glass jars, lined up with hand written labels collecting dust on a shelf. Every so often I pluck one between my fingers and bring it down for examination, to watch it dance in its airless space to a composition I cannot hear. It is through glass I can observe its beauty, even if its magnificence is dangerous and foreboding. The urge to unscrew its lid to insert bare fingers has passed. I can appreciate it for what it is or once was, a paradigm of self, and with that knowledge I can put if back on the shelf.

Copyright:Samantha Ledger 2013