At the Heart of the Thicket 


         On the walls there are many images. In order to be here, they floated across the water, never getting wet. They speak by themselves to visitors. 


          The spirit is good but the flesh is weak, my mother wrote to me, isn’t that the saying. 


           —Why don’t you ever talk to people? Why sit by yourself like this each day, in the same tiny arbour? 
           —Why do you keep watching me? 
           I overheard two art-school students talking nearby; one said: I went up to that girl in the dirty white dress over there, and she smelt. She — 
           But I closed my ears to what else they had to say. (I’d seen both students walking in the cloisters and at tea in the refectory, parading their clothes spotted and streaked with oil paint.) 
            A sparrow inspected the grass for leavings, near the exposed, ophidian tree-roots. 


          The woman speaks of her friend, an ageing, married man, priest-like in manner and belief, who waited at a college party, so out of the usual, for his young student; and danced with her, a slow dance with glissades, creating a passage through all the people surrounding them. 


          Through the windows of the airplane, the mountains emerge from clouds — monstrous and beautiful in their enormity, their formations; conjuring fear much as a person’s presence may bring fear. But with a person, the impress of that fear can be especially deep when he or she is someone you love. 


           At the other end of the park, a dumbshow lecturer stands in the midst of a group of students sitting on the ground. I can only see his gestures, I hear nothing at all: does he, in fact, say anything? The figures are small in the distance. There is nothing but two long expanses of grass, separated by a path of stones and earth, between them and where I sit; above us, there is the sky, which darkens. 


          A small group of teenagers, two boys and two girls, lounge around the entrance to the station. As I walk past and look their way, one of them — a tall, strong-looking black youth — grabs the girl beside him by the throat, forcing her against the wall. She catches my eye, and laughs. 


        —You collected the bones and skulls of men whom the law courts had put to death, thinking you were the better for defiling yourselves at their graves. ‘Martyrs’ you called the dead men, and ‘ministers’, and ‘ambassadors’ from the gods to carry men’s prayers. 


         Waiting at the entrance of the passage for the truck to drive past, they didn’t quite face each other yet neither did they quite turn away; leaves and rain blowing at their faces. Later, they would come to exchange words and gazes. 
           Wind in the branches of heavy foliage; thoughts struggling with contrary thoughts. Liquid begins to form in the air; then to fall; and, where it has fallen, to soak in or flow off; and, even if colourless, to stain. 
           She appeared to him in a dream, and said: I am pursued like a wolf from the sheep. I am not a wolf. I am word, and spirit, and power. 


          Blue crystal. At the centre of the thicket. 


          A house that you reach by a series of narrow lanes past the sea-front. Inside, a door opens upon weeping, bleeding, speaking, in their variety of colours. 

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