Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Here in this curious juncture of water, where the railings curve and their blackness shines, I stand.

The rounded and worn stones sweep away and the leaves, fresh, their green still tender, reflect in the ripples of the canal. They sway over its surface and mingle with its tranquil movement.

Why here, should I think of death? Not the death of personal loss, loved ones no longer present, but a death of blank moments, fruitless actions.

I see black limousines moving silently through a winter's morning. I sense their power, the almost sweet way they swing up a driveway, the hushed suddenness as they stop, their engines quiet.
They let dark-coated people out in front of hotel lobbies. Doors are opened with deference, with strained respect. And always hotels, as if these were people without homes, people who simply travelled from one moment to the next, people who had never been young, or never aged but simply arrived as if to bring a message and always looked the way they do because in them is something that has never been any different, or wanted to be any different, or gradually changed or ever grasped onto life with any desire to live it with any appreciation of its complexities, its pleasures.

Who are these people?

In the evening light, the spring light, I gaze over the water. The fresh leaves of the Lime rustle above my head and the breeze makes me shiver. I sense it is about to rain so I put my hands in my pockets, begin to walk, my feet jarring off the stone pavement. Suddenly, the outline of a gable, the opacity of a window shine in a stray burst of sunlight, its rays, fingers stretching out for a parting caress.

As the sky darkens, I search for somewhere to shelter. The clouds break and my hand pushes the door of a bar, open. Inside, it is warm. The drops of rain cling to my glasses so I take them off. I pull back the frayed collar of my raincoat and look about me. Faces do not turn, but remain fixed, immersed in their conversations and a lone laugh comes in fragmented waves across the floor.

Lifting a beer to my lips, its taste, biting, I again see those people in their limousines. It strikes me that they are ambassadors of death. They have come to relieve us of life. Even as l sip, as I swallow, they are fervently planning. Not a death that is awkward, the greying of hair, the stiffening of limbs, the gradual decay, decline of the body. Not a death that is painful, the pain of losing a loved one, or the tragedy of war. No. Their death is an ingenious death. Death without losing one's life, death while living.

So one morning I will wake and open the window. The street I look out on will not be a street, but a simulacrum of a street. The buildings I see will be but replicas, approximations of all buildings. The sky's blue will have been enhanced, and the sunlight that falls on my face will not be sunlight but an extrapolation of sunlight, an arrangement of waves, light, a heat generated from some contrived source, somewhere I cannot even place.

And perhaps the hand I rest on the ledge, its veins, the hairs along its fingers, its accumulation of touches, caresses, encounters, will not be my hand but another hand, a hand that has mysteriously grown onto the end of my arm, a hand that is continuously replaceable, a hand endlessly changing into other hands.

Will I with a great rush of happiness, an almost dizzying sense of wonder, realise I have been spared living, that I have cheated death, that not only have I woken from a nightmare, but dreams too have ended. Now I can drift endlessly in the limbo of some strange eternity?

Copyright (C) Peter Millington