That ought to make a lot of people read it.
Well, I haven’t been writing much poetry lately, though this is something written for a small, friendly writers’ group that could easily be poetry.
I thought it best not to use a picture with this since it’d push people’s understandings in particular directions. Make your own mind up what’s happening.
Consciousness: a kind of moving light. Aware of the light moving in the darkness. I am the light. Am I?
I am. I’m conscious. I’m somewhere. I’m aware of my body, a dull, vague casing round the bits that see, the bits that hear, the bits that think, the bits that clasp.
I move my arm.
I’m lying on something. Lying face down. Not so dark when I move my head. My arm aches. I hear a regular sound, soft, rasping, reassuring. Cat purring, mother breathing. Waves. The sea. I smell salt tang. I’m lying on a beach. There’s sand stuck to my face.
What’s that? Something blurry. A building? It has meaning. I should get to it.
I don’t want to move.
I’m seeing clearer. I push myself to rise on my elbows and move forward. My elbows sink in damp sand. A pebble pokes at my thigh. I reach the thing. It has a message
EXTRA KRACHT BLEEKMIDDEL
Should I carry the message somewhere? Where, then? I was going somewhere.
Sand is sticking to my shirt. I’m wet.
Who am I? Stupid question, boy. I am me. I am that I am. I am the monarch of all I survey. Sand, pebbles, lost seaweed, a plastic bottle, a flip-flop rising out of the sand like a sinking ship.
The sand around it is smooth, then rough.
Something is angry. That’s a gull. More gulls. Raucous cackles and shrieks.
Something is pushing me into the sand.
I know that. It’s my heart beating. It beats much faster than the sea.
I can see a bit further now. This is a beach. But no girls in bikinis, no fat men, no yelling kids, no barking dogs. What time of year was it?
I’m not wearing shoes. Or socks. Sand rasps and tickles my feet. Why didn’t I notice that before? Sensations returning slowly, top to bottom. Front to back. East to west.
There is a big, dead animal on the beach, its stiff arms outstretched.
It’s a long way off. Can I stand up? Nothing broken, just this huge sensation of weakness, of everything I try to concentrate on slipping away.
That wasn’t so hard. I can see trees now, higher ground. Alternate universe. Alternative?
STAND. I’m standing. Careful. To walk, put one foot forward. Shift weight to that leg. Move other foot beyond first one. That’s the way to do it. Who said that? Edwards. Who was Edwards? Do I have to tell Edwards? I can repeat it: EXTRA KRACHT BLEEKMIDDEL. Good boy.
I can walk. The soft sand tries to stop me. My feet sink in. What I push against shifts. But I move. The dead animal is closer.
I can feel wind. It’s cold. It’s in my face.
It isn’t a dead animal after all. I know this: it’s a tree trunk. A tree that fell into the sea and drowned, its trunk picked clean of bark, its leaves fallen away. The pale grey wood is smooth, very smooth. I can hear the secret hiss of my fingers running along it.
Can anyone else hear it? I must be quiet. I must be invisible. If I sink in the sand I can disappear. The sand tickles. The sea is salt.