golden headlands



golden headlands

She put the receiver down and smiled at the advice just given to her new friend. So, the writer needed to find his voice, did he?
She laughed aloud!
What about her own inability: to "speak", to find that elusive narrator who would surpass all others, to invent some unique and marvellous place from within which to sculpt words and to make them mean so many different things at once ...
    to resonate
      in the evening,
       in the sunset,
        and forever ...
It was all so ironic and difficult really, prose.
And yet she could tell stories, she knew that much.
Ah, but poetry, now that was something else.
All that space ...
the sheer expanse of vast imaginary canvases --
conjured up on fictive walls in Arabian galleries centuries ago;
taut and invincible on the ship that transformed her great grandfather,
Samuel Emmanuel Swarz, from citizen of the Azores,

to King of the World sailing past seemingly endless glorious coastlands,
to illegal alien on this tiny island beneath the Great South Land;
flapping in dreamscapes like enormous laundered sheets
billowing out in the wind forever
from one infinity to another;
and the strange small canvases
of computer screens shining
on desktops everywhere --
all those almost impossible leaps
that take place so easily in poems.

She reeled her mind back in through the kitchen window.
And listened to the muffled sound of the answering machine in another room, taking a call from someone speaking brusquely about something. Returning to her breakfast, she caught sight of her most recent poem laying on the table under some books, looking all prim on clean paper with fresh ink and a new font. Oh to touch the pages and gaze at the words some more. The steam from her waiting cup of tea blurred her vision, but it didn't matter: she almost knew the thing off by heart by now ... and the pictures. Really it was the pictures she loved most -- and the freedom that came as she imagined them -- the feeling of being far away, of floating ... just out of reach.
Oh could she read it again, though?
Yes, once more.



It is found again!
What? Eternity.
It is the sea mixed
With the sun


Outside the train a vast ocean of sand-coloured grass
swarms with the embryos of poems waiting
to be dreamed
into being ...


Beyond language and this steaming train
lay everything known before birth
when a queen and a favourite
knew how to play cards
at the bottom of a lagoon
decorated with the tempestuous
embroidery of sainted aunts
and other golden headlands ...

But that was before I fell into the sea
to search beyond the fringèd curtain of mine eyes,
to find your mind agape and red-hot.


Now texts are being drawn
onto the passing picture
planes ...
She is weaving
infinite threads of loss


The glass screens out the actual sounds and smells
but closing her eyes she knows them ...


inscribing images
inscribing images
inscribing images


Upon closed eye-lids there is an after-blur
of squarish windows turning blue and red,
funnelling murky colour along the clumsy
telegraph poles of memory ...
reminiscent of scattered mosaics:
overhead tramwires and sky;
alchemy and the earth, nubile
and rich in blood; the young Rimbaud
and the absolute certainty of death ...


Later, when plummeting into an unknown world 
where being relies on something other than flesh
she'll see your poetry
attired in Royal Robes
cavorting across space
trailing extravagant trains of fabric
dyed purple and the deepest indigo
and strewn with streams of golden tassels.
They'll be transformed, transported, 
shot through with meaning beyond
your wildest dreams, 
enthralled, entranced --
		too busy to stop, for anyone.


Throughout her body there will be a trumpeting of this endless savannah, its entirely sumptuous notes pressing close to her swollen belly. And whole acres of time will pass during which the plains shall blaze as if for the joy of being alive in the sun. Their plenitude will take up and swallow all other themes ...


And permeated throughout the movement of this immense expanse both inside and outside the sensation of self ... the train mumbles, still. The train mumbles of everything lost and gone, lost and gone forever ... and of distance, that will not submit, that will not submit.

Distance refusing to lessen its evangelical call to life.
Distance shouting like a thousand bellowing yokels.
Distance bringing to life the delighted but tragic
                   orchestra of earth and sky.


She stares at a small faded child 
	disappearing into the landscape, 
	a tiny typed asterisk 
	set against a sea 
	of bleached yellows.
		The train now smiling.


She looks at the lines outside. The semi-imagined straggling brushstrokes. The tiny movements of a pencil across the train window. The myriad chance scratches.

Eyes tracing lines, crossing and tripping, and singing and shouting and stumbling along, now fast, now slow ... now non-existent.


It is gone.
The emptiness unashamedly filters out all else.


But when I thought all was lost
you flamed amazement
and with rough magic
promised calm seas
mixed with the sun ...


What? It is found ...

Diane Caney, 1998
© all rights reserved

Oh yes, it was found ...
She was in love with everything ... encircled with it, utterly.
The day mooned at her, its enormous blue-sky face beaming ridiculously like a teasing, laughing lover. Smiling back she thought, "The day is my soul-mate". And she sipped the strange new spicy tea bought because the black shiny tin had been so wonderful with its image of an embossed blue and yellow lion laying beside a tiny pink lamb. Ludicrous really, but hadn't she read somewhere ... in Charmian Clift, on Kalymnos, that at Easter time, on that particular island, live sheep would be dyed pastel colours? -- the hills dotted with their exotic gambolling. And hadn't Kerry told her that in their excitement about the resurrection, Greek Islanders would set off fireworks at midnight outside their church on a hill? And some believers, too passionate to keep to the ornate orthodoxy of icons and saints, would send dynamite sticks sizzling through the night air to announce riotously to the world that life had triumphed?
Oh yes, pastel sheep and dynamite -- and lions and leopards,
all being led by the faithful child
of unclouded sympathy
and in her mind and around her head
on that fabulous morning
a golden vault of imagination
hummed ...
longing for translation.

  Diane Caney, 1998
© all rights reserved


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travels towards
an intertextual assemblage which circulates
around the poem embodied in this story.

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