Funeral Reading

(with J.K.Huysmans)

 

A slow and mournful chant arose so hollow that it seemed to have descended into itself, underground, it sprang out, and fell like a heavy tear; these voices of children, near breaking, instead of separating, and falling to the ground, there to be crushed out like a drop, seemed to gather together with a supreme effort, and fling to heaven the anguished cry of the disincarnate soul, cast naked, and in tears before God. The depths, not now serving only as sheaths to the sharp blades of the urchin voices, but open with full throated sound–yet the dash of the little soprani pierced it through all at once like a crystal arrow. With closed eyes, they are seen at first almost horizontal, then rising little by little, then raising themselves upright, then quivering in tears, before their final breaking. The children’s voices broke into a sad, silken cry, a sharp sob, trembling on the word which remained suspended in the void.

Piercing as with a jet of living silver the sombre cataract of the deep sharpened the wailing, strengthened and embittered the burning salt of tears, they insinuated a protecting caress, balsamic freshness, lustral help; they lighted in the darkness those brief gleams which tinkle in the Angelus at dawn of day; they called up, anticipating the prophecies of the text, the compassionate image of a Virgin, passing, in the pale light of their tones, into the darkness of that sequence.

A sublime prayer ending in sobs, at the moment when the soul of the voices was about to overpass human limits, gave a wrench to the nerves, and made a heart beat. Then wishing to be abstract, and cling especially to the meaning of that sorrowful plaint, in which the fallen being calls upon their God with groans and lamentations. Calling on his Saviour in despair from the bottom of the abyss, man, now that he knows he is heard, hesitates ashamed, knowing not what to say. The excuses he has prepared appear to him vain, the arguments he has arranged seem to him of no effect, and he stammers forth; “If Thou, O Lord, shalt observe iniquities, Lord, who shall endure it?”

At once ethereal and of the tomb, the solemn cry of sadness and lofty shout of joy, an uprising of souls already freed from the slavery of the flesh, an explosion of elevated tenderness and pure joy. The sweetness of his solitude was enhanced by the aromatic perfume of wax, and the memories, now faint, discerns a path of light to guide it in the darkness. No longer the prayer which has hope enough not to tremble; it was the cry of absolute desolation and of terror.

And, indeed, the wrath divine breathed tempestuously through these and asserted itself still more savagely, for it threatened to strike the waters, and break in pieces the mountains, and to rend asunder the depths of heaven by thunder-bolts. And the earth, alarmed, cried out in fear.

But yet the memory of fleshly desires, and the presumptuous praise a life of its own, not arising out of mere tribal dissensions, but extending to all the earth, chanting the anguish of the time to be born, as well as of the present day, and of the ages which are no more. The smokey skeleton extends itself only in obscurity and moves only in the shadow of the crypts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clock Living

 

“Well; while I was a student of the arts, which was of course way back in the latest Fin de Siecle period, I spent 4 months living in a clock. Twas a rather nice clock, I couldn’t complain on that point; walnut with an etched brass face, inlayed with mother of pearl, and ornate hands telled of the time. All rather pleasant you might think… there was also ample headroom, it being a ‘Grandfather’ type. The previous occupant had left behind a selection of cracked records and a rather lovely large moth, sans life. I'd set out my belongings and furniture in two halves… front and back. the pendulum swung in-between. This was a minor inconvenience; meaning that I had to time my movement round the abode by the second… my sense of rhythm was greatly improved during this time! The madness came from the perpetual ticking and tocking; after being awake for three weeks and two days I could hear the ticking and, even more so, the tocking throughout the day time, where ever I was. It became part of my brain. I always knew what the time was… I couldn’t relax, constantly aware of time passing by… At night I lay sweating in the dim silver, my eyes following the great swinging brass. I fantasized about sticking my toe out, and interrupting it's motion, perhaps stopping it in it's doom-time-tracks. But knowing how that would stop time I couldn’t make my muscles do it.. my leg froze from contrary desires. I soon moved out and started living in a traffic light just off the ring-road, but thats another story.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midnight Silverfish Blues

 

As I looked out into the stale darkness, I realised once again, how scared I was. It was night, that was for sure, but the air was so still, and at such a temperature that there was basically no weather at all.

The previous afternoon I had spent with my true love; we had lain in silence, with only the relentless electric hum as a blanket. There was no longer any need for words, we knew it was over. Because of the past our future would not be together, but for now all we wanted was to put off that lonely, ruined future for as long as possible. In both our minds was a twisting of logic, painfully looking for some way that we could change the situation we were in. Though not a single thought got far enough to warrant being spoken out-loud.

We lay, wrapped around each other for so long that our skin became virtually indistinguishable, hers was mine, mine hers. For this last moment we were the same person; absolute peace externally, and absolute torment inside. The light turned from blue, to orange. Our hearts grew heavy. We hadn’t eaten for so long that if we didn’t eat soon, we may just die there, and neither of us would have minded that all that much.

I awoke from a sleep I didn’t notice falling into. She was gone, it was dark. The nylon strands around me felt like barbed wire as I tried to move my listless body from its grave-spot. Peering ahead of me; some way in the distance I could see her feasting with some others on a massive piece of cheese that had appeared as if from nowhere. Their bodies shone as they swirled in the gloom. That she had gone meant that no place was worth going. I lay. I wanted the hum to be louder.