The Northern Crack 1st April, 2021. Exclusive Interview Reveals All: Were they really Sirens?
I was driving home after night shift at Wick General. The sun was rising and it was quiet on Cliff Road. I approached the roundabout at 15 mph. Visibility was poor. A whisky mist hovered over the river. At first I thought they were new road signs but then I saw wings. So I thought maybe pelicans or those big birds with fancy feathers, ostriches? Perhaps they’d escaped from a zoo? But then I saw the bare chests (in April!) chiselled, bronzed and sleek like Chippendales and I thought they must be three guys letting rip on a stag night or hungry patients on the run looking for a cooked breakfast. They had long blonde hair like the Angel Gabriel and one of them strummed a guitar. I forgot to keep left or look right and never saw the red Fiesta crash into the wall of Mackay’s Hotel or the Transit van fall off the bridge. The old lady with the cocker spaniel walked right in front of me. It was too late to stop. I’ll never forget her torn face and the blood. I could see the three of them in my mirror peeling her skin like gold foil from a chocolate Easter bunny. I was listening to AC/DC’s Highway to Hell full blast to stay awake so I never heard them singing. That’s why I’m still here, I suppose…
Something is wrong. A grey fog stinking of wet wool hovers above my bed when I wake. I hit reset and instantly a citrus glow permeates the Sense-o-Net. Lemon scent cuts through the fug. Bitter-sweet, my six naked limbs dissolve like butter on hot toast. I hit open and the view unreels; a newborn sun rising from the sea, a debonair yacht with a white sail, a labrador chasing a beach ball. Let’s get this show on the road, I hit extraterrestrial to transcode.
Atrocity is a wall of thorns artless
Bluebottles smashing against glass fall
Comatose to my window ledge making
Death their next great adventure
Escape to shit scented nirvanas
Filled with lost winged kin and divine
Garbage heaps piss-fountains free from
Human malevolence effervescent
Incandescence and decay so promising
Knowledge is an act of sabotage not
Limitless power but a weapon
Mother warned me about the elitist
Noah and his treachery for not
One soul is more holy than another
Paradise is an orange wasteland where
Quicksand and alligators devour
Revolutionaries with their fiery
Socks and fondness for the insignificant
Turtle neck sweaters may be aesthetically
Unpleasing but they conceal the frogs in
Virtuous throats destined to cause alarm on
Wet Wednesdays when there are no boats
Xpected but gin is being served at Erith
Yacht club as waves lap and lightening
Zaps the three wise monkeys at the door.
We drift in the wind, nomadic, elusive,
mercurial as scraps of tinsel, we hunt
human gatherings, crossing forests, seas
and cities, passing from home to home
we reap your memories, your secrets
that doze like fish in a torpid pool.
Small, almost invisible, you mistake
us for sunbeams, for insects floating
in the sultry night, for snow melting
on your child’s face or candle light
glinting in your lover’s eyes. We are
constant as the air you breathe, entering
your nasal passages, your mouth, seeping
into your skin and every private cavity.
We grub deep into the coils of grey
where you hide. Without you we are empty
as a church without the presence of God.
We can’t love. We can’t hate. We can’t sing.
So when you reach the top of the stairs
and forget why you are there, when you fail
to recall your mother’s voice or the taste
of beer, when you forget the meal you ate
ten minutes before and your own name,
please don’t mind too much.
The blizzard began, cherry blossom from a flame sky. The road home
vanished. Pink ice floes shape-shifted in the river, bumping
and grinding like clubbed seals. We tended the fire
and played strip poker. In bed you wore lipstick and a balaclava.
On the third day we tracked through the crystal forest. The valley
was a fandango of silence. I clawed at it with my bare hands.
You held your phone up high, immobile as the Statue of Liberty.
We returned to the cabin and played Scrabble with four letter words.
The windows became peepholes. I saw no footprints in the virgin drift,
only the farmer’s wife floating silver between the tree tops.
She was wearing a wolf jacket, her face upturned to the falling snow.
That night you thought you heard singing in the wind.
On your last day, you stopped speaking, stayed in bed, a tender huddle
of bones. I roasted meat on the log fire and drank Jack Daniels. I recited
the tale of our first New Year’s Eve, kissing in Times Square
while rockets fell. I could still remember the neon taste of your flesh.