Distorted pictures and the coming war

Posted: July 14, 2014 in Distorted pictures and the coming war

Why do you whisper, green grass?
Why tell the trees what ain’t so?
Whispering grass, the trees don’t have to know,
No, no.

Why tell them all your secrets?
Who kissed there long ago?
Whispering grass, the trees don’t need to know.

– The Ink Spots, “Whispering Grass (Don’t Tell the Trees)”

Washed out. Every damned thing looks sick and pale. The clouds, passing cars, my feet on the footpath. They all move nauseatingly slow. But they’re so jittery and fast at the same time. It’s like when you go without breakfast, or high blood-pressure. I can feel it like nerves in my coronary artery, or the dizzy backwash of adrenaline after a shock.

We’re in the middle of a war, but I feel like there’s still a war coming. Something anyway. But it’s all like the beat is just slightly too quick for the melody or like something should move faster, needs to catch up. All those beautiful boys, kings and princes all. Getting tattoos of ships and anchors so they can go out into the Pacific to have themselves shot or blown up. I want to get teardrops tattooed on my cheeks because I’m empty and distorted pictures is all I have left.

Amazing how all those young men go off pretending and it’s only the old men left behind that seem to comprehend what they’re really going off to do.

           I stand at the church door, the minutes tick by as I marvel at the intricacies in the wood grain in the weathered timber. All parallel lines and incomprehensibly small waves and judders from floor to lintel. Hard to fathom that these lines represent the growth, shedding and renewal of a tree that once stood in the earth somewhere. It makes me think. I think about this body of mine, this vessel holding “me,” and about my own mortality. Only, when I’m gone I won’t and can’t become a set of immaculate parallel lines in a smooth plank. The only mark left on this earth that will represent my ever having existed will be a single block of granite amongst a field of granite blocks and only a few chiselled markings will identify this particular block of granite as the place my corpse was buried. Everything could be all verdant greens and ripe and blinding over-saturation and it won’t fucking matter one iota because I will be gone and all that will remain of my love will be these distorted fucking photographs.


            “My dear! What ever can be the matter? Come in, come in! My dear, come in!”

Alberta Corinne realised she was crying. Great gasping sobs against the greying panels of the antechamber door. The grooves in the worn timber felt as if they had scarred her forehead. She touched the spot and expected to see blood on her fingers, but it didn’t matter. The preist thought she was making the sign of the cross, stepped forward and put an arm around her shoulders. She fell to her knees at his touch and the priest, off balance, tumbled down on to one of his. He cried out in pain and Alberta Corinne seemed to come to her senses. She let out one last shuddering sob, something between a cough and a yell of agony, before looking into the face of the old man that held her. She tried to speak, to say the word “father” but her throat and mouth would form neither shape nor sound and so she only managed to look at him with an expression of utter wretchedness and to stutter a sound that meant nothing.

Father Thomas Walmsley suddenly felt terribly conflicted. There was his innate sense of concern for this distraught young thing, as well as his duty as a man of the cloth to comfort a troubled soul, and there was the searing pain that now burnt up his left thigh, radiating from his throbbing knee, and his desire to tend to his own injuries lest his rheumatism flare up again. Kneeling and facing the door he grew self-conscious, looking around for passers-by in the street. Father Walmsley removed his hand from Alberta’s shoulder and they both shuffled around on their knees and sat down, leaning against the door with their legs out before them.

Sitting side-by-side on the steps of the church, Alberta was blotchy-faced and pale, intermittently inhaling little sobs as Father Walmsley, red faced and grimacing, rubbed at his aching patella. Along the street sparrows chirped in the pittosporum and the tips of the scrubby grass along the nature-strip vibrated in the breeze. The whistle to signal the midday shift-change sounded at the railway workshops, a low mournful note from down the road.

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