The Cenotaph Mines
Prompted by the warm sheet of A4, she ran her mind along the chain of numbers looped and strung out like guide ropes in a glow worm cave. Her adolescent obsession had been an embarrassment but now she could visualise without the slightest bitterness the blue volumes of the DDC 21 that radiated from their place under the still made bed in the house of her parents. She could become an elegant finger flying through the stale basement air to the exact book. Her finger and the sheet of A4 like a banner making wavelettes of intent with the faintest trace of acetone. It was a secret she kept from her colleagues, this ability to almost completely dematerialise and appear at the required decimal. She made purposeful mistakes so as not attract attention. Misshelved things were an aberrance that could cause her to fall hissing like crinoline thrown from a high burning window. More often she kept quiet her hatred of careless shelving. Sometimes it was hard. The numbers were all she had to light up the gloom. There should be no surprises, and this time the book appeared. One finger cannot retrieve a book from a shelf. She returned to her body, and in that instant felt pressure on her hand as if she was placing it into a cold fireplace. She stopped still, the book partially drawn at an angle she recognised. Then, very slowly, she slid the book back into place. The pressure increased. There must be a vent. She closed her eyes and listened for a vent. Nothing but the deep indeterminate pulse of concrete, and an immense blue that made her eyes surface like divers short of air. The book appeared floating in space and she was frightened for a moment before realising she had dematerialised again and it was her invisible hands holding the book in space. Interesting, was it just that one shelf? She would come back later and test the surrounding shelves. Clearly, it was some kind of airflow but why in that particular part of the series? She delivered the book without seeing the face of the requester. That was ok. She spent the rest of the afternoon awkwardly reclining in the kind of fatigue that brings on eternity, her earlier thoughts of exploring completely erased. On the bus it felt as if the back of her hand was being struck by little pebbles and she pulled the cuff of her sweater down around her fingers to make a deformed puppet mouth. The puppet said absolutely nothing. For the evening she made slightly too much quiet solitude and went to bed like it was the last thing she wanted to do. Later just before she went to sleep she saw her hand as filaments of light that were words. She could hear them the same way she could see them but as the sounds emerged they twisted around themselves and the filaments became like the clumps of fishing nylon she sometimes found at the beach. ‘This hand is no longer mine’ she heard herself say. Then she was at the beach.
I have been living in these people’s roof for about 3 months, the longest stint of this kind of carry on that I have yet pulled off. I am kind of proud. It’s not easy to live in somebody’s roof, especially when women are involved. They have a sixth sense that can sniff out the smallest mouse. It’s not enough to not make a sound, one must erase even the thought of making a sound if one wishes to remain off the female radar. Men on the other hand will sleep soundly with a King Rat sitting on their face. Am I wrong?. Probably. I am not so fond of rats myself but if one decided to make a home in the same hovel, I would probably leave it alone.
There is a little slither of no man’s land that forms the border between two properties. It is a finger shaped outcrop of the fallow land onto which most of the houses in the cul de sac back onto. I tried for a while to sleep in a little space formed by a tree that had fallen across where the river once ran but the guy who said he owned the land kept chasing me off until finally he gave me a clip with the axe handle he always carries. I mean, that kind of thing is illegal but the five o are last people on earth I would want to get involved with my affairs. It’s easier to live in the roof. I still have to cross the land to get to the place where I can climb up into the roof but now when he sees me he just waves the axe handle and he knows I know what he has to say. Sometimes I have to hide under this thick scrubby bush that has markings all over the ground under it made by some animal that I have never seen. I don’t know, we have a strange understanding, me and the axe handle guy.
At first, I would wait until nobody was home before climbing the tree that gives access to the ledge that allowed me to reach up and get my finger tips on the sill of the attic window. Over time I managed to minimise my foot and finger holds to the barest minimum required to get in the window. I would listen for the pattern of the branches higher up that brushed and struck the roof of the house. Depending on the direction of the wind and the tree’s mood, I became adept at synching my footfalls with its rhythms.
Once she saw me crossing from the scrub. She was sitting in an unusual spot with the look of somebody who had just had an argument. She was quick to cover her fear and asked ‘what are you doing there?’. “I’m looking for my dog, have you seen a dog’ ‘no’ ‘ok, I’ll go back this way’ ‘yes, best you do’. This should have scared me off the place, I may live like a creep but I am not really. Still, it seemed like more of a challenge now to get under this woman’s vigilance, to become part of the landscape she saw everyday but didn’t see. So I started to make my runs only when I knew they were home. This kind of thing is an art and I am not going to reveal my process for fear it will disappear with the words. It seems to me that people don’t really understand what happens when certain words leave their mouths.
Once in the window, I have three steps to make in order to reach the door that lies across the roof joists and forms my bed. The second joist makes a dry rising note and this note is like my front door key. Once I hear that sound I can relax. I sit cross legged on the door, light my candle, close my eyes so I can see the light through my eyelids and listen to the life below.
There is a trick i learned in the old lands where the ability to wait is a definite plus. It’s never so much the waiting that is tiresome as it’s the people one has to wait with. The clasping matrix of eyes, the ping pong requests for verification, the jarring tones of forgotten clothing. Feigning sleep or a hangover will relieve your poor brain of having to filter so much quotidian horror. Clearly, this strategy will not fit all situations. If you are a shameless type you will already have dark sunglasses or a ridiculous hat. There are some who shade their eyes with Elysian clouds that drift in front of faces that betray their royal bastardry. This effect can be simulated by certain quality cosmetics and perfumes but nothing can fake royal bones. A peasant like me has to resort to cheap tricks. In the lair of cut throats and the mentally unwell sleeping with the eyes open is a crucial survival tool. Sleeping and dreaming in waiting rooms is another story entirely. The eyes are the window to the soul and this is true whether they are open or closed hence the need for barriers. It is easy to spot the experienced, they never enter. Truth hangs like a cross in waiting rooms and the experienced avoid its shadows. Listen to the functionary’s tone, a lot can be learned and the alarm built into the voice is of a clarity and intent hidden by the upper layers. Like arcane music, it is difficult to find pattern. It is a music of relentless surprise characterised by sharp incursions into the flat line of whatever acoustic miasma is occurring. With a high pitched ring, an ear might give up; cede its task to other organs, finger tips or even hair for the frequencies attended with a shudder. The ear retreats also because it knows that true waiting is very close to the region of eternity where ears are redundant.
A major stumbling block for the field of management theory is its necessity to be understood by idiots. No sorry, not idiots. Let’s stick to basics. Let’s say, that being able to recognise oneself in the mirror is both prerequisite and core content. An ability to read is then confronted with binding logics of flow and reflux, a lexical reductionism that not so much replaces as devours structural difference. Thought itself is reduced to a chromophagic beige, the domain of diagrams that prove nothing more than the efficacy of the slip knot. The screen…the room…precursors of sleep. Under the data show, the hierarchies of the gut preside. The stomach ear rumbles. When she says ‘I am hearing you’, the screen glimmers like film caught in the gate. Its own lost dream. The remnants of thought release in a regret blurred bloom of hope. Their open mouths, the ramps of conflation. Poetry!. Will somebody please kill it and restore our poets to breath? Relieve them of the name then maybe they would stand a chance.