I know it is coming, and I think about it almost every day. The door closing, the life ending. The peace to know that I cannot change a thing and the acceptance to say that I have had a good life: I have lived and I have loved, and in turn I have been loved and lived my life as best I could with others, with my family and friends. A door is closing, but I am thankful it was ever open at all.
The ties that bind the population to the land can seem inhuman: mechanical structures that can stretch across the landscape, not embracing the natural features in any meaningful way but instead perch delicately on top or silently underneath. The hidden foundations, tunnels, and pipes that anchor these structures are violently forced and rendered into and through the land, yet here is where the beating economic heart sits, almost contentedly by the sea.
Only we have learnt from the lessons of the past few centuries and slowly our gaze is turning to how we can instead ally industry with nature, working with it instead of against it. Is it too late? Only time will provide us with that answer. . .
Peering at it he saw translucent wings that could be seen against the screen which, in turn, were attached to a fat round body with pinprick legs. Looking more carefully he could just about focus onto the fly’s multi-lensed eyes and searching feeding tube, flickering as it was here and there. The folded first pair of legs rubbed against each other seemingly in pure joy at the location that it had found itself in.
A flicker of disgust rose in his belly on seeing all of this.
To top it off that incessant buzzing noise was so annoying!
‘Hey there, do you mind not staring at me as I try to feed please!’, politely opined the insect under view.
Jumping back slightly and slowly rocking in his seat Joseph sensed that this was not quite right, flies did not normally respond in such a manner to human inspection.
‘I… well I beg your pardon Mr Fly! It seems as i you have chose a rather inconsiderate position, upon my computer screen where you currently reside, to settle yourself’, he stammered with half empty lungs still gulping down air in mid shock.
‘Well be that as it may but give me some peace please! I am more than half way through my life cycle and my weary wings need a rest!’ replied the fly curtly.
‘Also, could you please stop spraying that awful chemical around your house! You have already killed my brothers and sisters willingly, at least let me give your screen a quick clean’.
At this the fly gently patted his first few limbs against the screen’s surface and shook his head slowly to express his disappointment.
‘Well yes of course, please make yourself at home’.
His default manner in shock was one of prime consideration to his fellow man and, in this instance, insectoid. If the fly really did make itself at home and start to feed in such a manner flies are known to feed in, well then he felt that he really wouldn’t be able to keep the rising bile contained within his throat and would have to let rip in full bodily disgust.
‘So… how did you come to be able to speak?’, his question contained mild awe at the somewhat deep voice that the fly had spoken in.
‘Well sir, you are really asking but two questions there and I shall have to go into them on a granular level’, counted the fly in reply.
He started to regale the fellow as to how he first noticed he could talk to these upright lumbering beasts…
‘Since my answer is granular on a most profound scale, could I ask of you that you lay out some bread crumbs first so that I may feast before I tell my tale?’
‘Yes, why of course I shall be back in a moment’.
In the kitchen Joseph couldn’t quite believe he was rubbing pieces of bread together to collect a small surfeit of crumbs for his winged guest. Winged speaking guest no less! A dab of water was needed to cool his forehead but he did as Mr Fly suggested and brought the crumbs through to the office room and lay them out on a small dish.
Choking back the sickness that had welled in his throat he watched Mr Fly saunter from screen to saucer, hop onto a large crumb and attach his sucker. Presumably he digested it there and then, but his human audience did not care to look upon this part.
‘Just the ticket!’ squealed the fly in sheer delight. A small leg pad rubbed his belly and Joseph almost swore he could see a smile on his little insectoid face. He had to admit he was growing quite accustomed to his winged guest and admired his good behaviour.
‘Thank you Joseph for the food, it is much appreciated. Now let me start my tale of when I first knew I could speak to you humans…
On a summers day I found myself seeking shade from the blazing sun, we flies can get too hot you know and I could spy a blackbird, a hundred seagulls and more, who were all desperately trying to peck me. So I flew and I found shade and safety in an office, the door magically opening as I followed a human in. This human was bald, not like the rest of you haired apes (Yes Joseph, I too know my animals!).
He moved into another smaller room within this office and closed the door, but not before I snuck in and latched upon the wall, resting, tasting. I could hear him speaking but at first I could not make out the words as to what he was saying. This was to be expected! Fly speech is very different to human speech, our special buzzes hide all sort of sonorous tones that emit signals for how we are and what we want. You may hear our buzzes and
think nothing of it but we are speaking Joseph, we are speaking to each other!
I was glad to be on that wall, the pesky bumble bee bastards were buzzing me earlier in the day and getting me agitated. I knew I had to find a safe and clean place, and what is more sterile than a human office!
As I tuned in a most magical thing happened! I could understand partly what he was saying. I caught the odd word as he stared at his face in the mirror world.
I could hear ‘ha ha ha, haha haha haha, haaa haaaa’ and variations within. Every once and a while the words ‘game plan’, ‘going forward, go-ing forr-wood’, ‘in this instance’ and that most special of words – ‘granular, grain ula, gran-ular’ were spoken a hundred times, each inflection more varied than the last.
I admit it Joseph, that word had a special effect on me. I could feel the bass notes shivering through my thorax and my wings fluttered in simple delight. I felt I must try this word, I must speak it myself!’
At this Mr Fly shivered and slumped upon the remaining breadcrumbs and remained quiet.
‘Are you alright Mr Fly?’ ventured Joseph to no apparent reply.
‘Mr Fly… ? Hello… ?’
After what seemed like an eternity Mr Fly shook his wings and re-awoke. Joseph shook too, but with with thankfulness that his little insectoid friend had not become the late Mr Fly and instead resumed his previous courteous manner.
‘And so, when I had heard those words uttered from this humanoid form I could not help but be bewitched and in turn wanted to utter those words myself,’ he stated having not realised he had momentarily passed out.
‘But.. but how could you? You do not have the right anatomical equipment to utter such words nor the brain to understand them!’ stammered Joseph, at a loss to explain how this fly had gone from pest to best friend within a matter of some minutes.
‘Well all you see is not what you all get my dear fellow’.
A forelimb wiped gently at his lensed right eye and a quick shake of his wings indicated Mr Fly had something rather further more to say on the matter.
‘I practiced again and again at getting the words just so, how I yearned to emulate my master in the mirror world and utter the word ‘granular’, how beautiful did it sound to my fly ears and how each letter reverberated across my thorax! You see you humanoids all think that we insects are the same, that we cannot think individually and act instead as a mass of self denial, acknowledging only our queen or basic instincts but this is simply not true!
We lead lives just as you do! We too have feelings, thoughts, desires and romances, our hearts, little though they are, burst forth with the beauty and decadence of this life as do your best writers, painters and actors, thinkers and do’ers.
But of course we cannot express this – we are entwined with nature in such a way as to be invisible without it whereas you humans, you create whole new worlds of meaning, locked away in sterile isolated buildings full of arbitrary rules and regulations to govern each and every action and reaction.
No, I know of your world but I am not of it.’
Mimicking a courtesy head bow Mr Fly prepared to fly off into that world once more.
‘But wait! Why mimic human speech? Why become fascinated by something so much that you emulate it and then cast it aside?’ questioned Joseph, an imploring look plastered across his shrew-like features.
‘Why use language, we could talk you and I, our species could talk! Good God Mr Fly, could you think of the implications!’
At this Mr Fly shivered, cast his multi-lensed eyes across the room and wiped them once more with his tiny forelimbs.
‘No, I have seen your kind, preening in the mirror world. Only for today are my words for your ears Joseph.
I thank you though for sharing your bread with me, it is much appreciated and it will not be forgotten. But now I must go and join my own!’
‘Thank you, a thousand times thank you!’, cried Joseph in return.
The fly raised its head as if to sniff the air and then flew off, out of Joseph’s home office and back into the world of the living.
Meanwhile, in the work office in which the fly had learnt to use the language of humans but briefly, the balded man sat at his desk staring into his computer screen.
First his arm spasmed, then his left leg jerked uncontrollably. He tried to speak, to shout out in mounting horror but no words emanated forth from his now twitching mouth. Instead, only a series of low buzzes poured out which attracted each and every fly around to dance around his shoulders and atop the crown of his head.
The staff, not quite used to seeing the spectacle of winged insects invading their office, quickly shrieked and shirked in primal horror and abandoned their workstations en masse.
Mr Fly, at the centre of it all, landed on the computer screen observing each and every movement made by the now crowned man and his flailing colleagues. Yes, he thought, they may run now but in time each will respond as did Joseph, with warmth, kindness and compassion.
He flicked his wings, clicked his forelimbs and took flight.
I remember as if it were yesterday, the thick legs creeping slowly around the side of the cobwebbed decorated bag with all the inevitability of death itself. I howled, even as I jerked the bag onto the surface of the bed and I could see for the first time that this large spider was aged, weary of life.
It had none of the vitality of its younger form; it didn’t embody the free spirit of jazz scuttling here and there, enticed by the possibility of finding a mate. It was stately, as if to query who would dare to wake it from its slumber in the bag I had so little used and within which it had made its final home.
I crushed it quickly and fully, the circular body being beaten flat with the legs retracting close to its lifeless form. I covered the body with a cup, afraid to see the results of my own actions.
In my dreams it haunts me still.
A small journey begins tomorrow and when I return from it I will also have to return to the world. This is something that I am having difficultly facing as I re-evaluate where my place is.
I carry you in my heart,
I carry you in my memories.
‘Don’t stop, don’t break,
You can delight because you have a place,
Quiet room, I need you now.’
– Majesty Snowbird by Sufjan Stevens
I was the first born. Before the the mountains had rose from the sea, before the clouds hung in the sky, I came first. My brother was the tree, who provided me with its fruit. Animal was my brother too, feared and respected, watched and observed.
The second born saw what I, the first born, had and craved it for himself. The mountain rose with his anger, as did the clouds. The water started to foam and has not stopped since.
No longer do we treat my first born brothers with the respect that we once gave one another. Now we herd them, both for their meat and for their fruit, until we have destroyed utterly the life that we had always lived.
I used to hold the sacred mud in my hand, and I could feel the fertility in its wet embrace. Now I weep as the mud has become sodden with black earth blood, leeching the ground and contaminating the green grasses and wild animals.
We herd the land now too, parceling it off into smaller divisions that breed anger and jealously, war and hate. No longer do we eat facing each other, we eat alone.
Our music, once shared, has now become a singular pursuit in the contours of our identity.
I weep for myself. I weep for suburbia.
Photography by the author, if reproduced please credit as appropriate.
The rock of the land meets the cold waters of the ocean. Grass sits silent on top of the coastline, drinking in the golden sunlight. The cliffs in the background are out of focus, the sharpness of the waves breaking on the jagged rocks has been lost. Clarity has been forsaken for impressionism. Broad brushstrokes paint the solid bedrock of the picture, where it is the little details that matter and not the great hulking monolith that the scene captures. The foreground mimics the background. There is no meaning imbued in the photograph, no central image to focus the eye, nor no human actor to engage the viewer. There is nothing but the silence and the stillness of the scene, of the grass that will never grow taller, of the sand that will never be blown away by invisible winds.
This is a landscape in miniature, where a thousand footprints have already been left and a thousand more wait to be made.
If reproduced, please credit the author of this blog as the photographer.
If this photograph is reproduced, please credit the author of this blog as the photographer.
Music reviews have become somewhat rare on this site but it is something that I am hoping to rectify within the next few months. Personally I find music vital to the conductivity of daily life, its beauty integral to feeling a part of the great warmth of humanity. It comforts me when I am lonely at work, cheers me up first thing on a morning. But music doesn’t just inspire – it also confronts and invigorates. It’s an expression filled art form on par with the written word. If you can I’d encourage you to pick up and instrument and jam with some friends. There really isn’t anything quite like that deep connective groove when a song or jam falls into place. I’m not going to end this short post with a song as I want you to find your own song, listen to something new and challenging. Change genre, change tempo, change style, change approach.
Jaded I can’t even get wasted, the brown bottle bin empty.
It’s the gas, the final plunge that I think about each and every night. That infinite high that accompanies gross body trauma.
The welcoming words of the paramedic; the soft hue of the ambulance lights.
That Cheshire cat grin as I think I overdose on the self administered pain killer.
It is the all encompassing hug of the soft welcoming paws of hospital. The knowledge that I have survived again, that the bone can break and the flesh part, but I remain. I remain.