Sunday, 30 July 2017

Portrait of Andi at 16 - St George's Uniform

A flag fluttering in a soft breeze; fluttering, hesitating; hesitating, fluttering again.

The wind is a machine, we will insist upon this fact. For we are free to imagine the hands of a clock; two sun soaked legs making this easy for us. Tick. It is twenty five past six. Tick. Tock. Tick. The skirt flutters, the arms move infinitesimally, time spreading like clouds… We are a sheet, made of cotton, and washed only yesterday, we are not… A white sky? I really do not know what you are talking about. The white sheet, obstinately insisting upon its rights, will be heard. Here is a literalist, an egoist and a bore. We send her to the back of the class. Unease following her through the room, whispers susurrate across the desks, until, with a hard look and a ferociously loud silence, we restore the old order. A window quietly rattles. And we return to the blackboard, with its half-finished drawing: a forlorn Father Time trampled into oblivion under the feet of a triumphant dragon…

A page turns over.

The book is comfortable on this girl’s lap. Here is God at the centre of his creation. A motor inside the mechanism. It is God’s word that moves this machine, the machine controlling the rhythm of his speech.

To leave eddies on a white canvas.

A face lost to these pages. We think of a handkerchief wiping away nose, cheeks, every one of the facial features… It is words. Out with their dusters, mops and buckets! Cleaning up our lives they rub out many of its details; and we forgo our relationships, forget the teachers on the other side of the door. Each new paragraph a pristine palimpsest. Erasing the world, they too disappear, the words transformed into images as fleeting as Father Time, only his nose now left, soon to be the ear of a Scottie dog. We witness these transformations in the ripples across a white throw on a hardly perceptible sofa; white in a white room. Tick. A page flaps about flaps over.

There is resistance. 

A hand, carrying the words into the mind’s ether, takes on its ethereal nature, and fades away into transparency. The other hand anchors the book to the body. There is obstinacy in those arms. To whose loyalty do they belong: to time or to the machine that controls it? The wind laughs, moving on in whispers…

Tick. 

The pages are too light, too buoyant, to be suppressed, billowing out they are blowing over and over until few are left to finish. It is half past six. Teatime!

Someone is calling us back to earth.

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