Saturday, 19 March 2016

Merry-Go-Round

The man’s back: a cliff insouciant before a sea battering helplessly against it; we think of the White Cliffs of Dover grinning at the French. 

The man’s face is invisible. We imagine it relaxed, composed; a sailor sure of himself in charge at the ship’s wheel.

A ship making its steady way through turbulent waters.

We struggle to describe this sea; its wild mania refusing to be straight-jacketed by our sentences. The words flounder. Similes go overboard, and are lost.

The sailor is looking at the horizon. He has no need of our words; flotsam from another world, wrecked before he set sail, they are destined for some deserted shore.

Images are emerging. The waves are like… They are like…they are like a large herd loose on an undulating plain. Such monstrous beasts! mad heads shrieking at an angry sky; hooves stampeding the rolling water into a raging foam.

The sailor has tamed many a wild horse. He is happy here.

For the others: smiles of fun have become screams of terror - passengers on a runaway train soon to leave the tracks.

Unfortunately for them I speak in metaphors. They will never leave this carousel.

Calmly the sailor increases the speed. There is no end to this fear; increasing with time it intensifies; the steam billowing out towards the picture frame… Which contains it. We feel the pressure; the claustrophobia squeezes us. 

The sailor sits comfortably on this steed; a knight ruffled not by the strange noises of a dark forest.

Once they were people. Today they are mannequins. Blame the machine! Puppet-master. Puppet-maker.

Faces carved into cries; the bodies rigid as inanimate matter. These are dolls in coloured clothing. Yet the work is not complete. The chests are women’s chests, pregnant with fertility; while this man’s back, his horse’s hindquarters, are supple with animal life.

The colours are a child’s delight.

The dresses; these uniforms; this beautiful fairground ride. What an artful trap! The soldiers and their girlfriends. Exquisite unicorns.

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