Tunnel Visions

We look at man-scratched trees, and our skins split and crackle in awe. A man allowed his feet to be shovelled up by architects, those who claimed to know the arches inside-out and back again. He lies on his back, and lets them inside. Another man gave up his daughters for this. A heavy, murmurous grey sea spreads from the walls, an essence of the land south of the river. The Sufi have a word for it, apparantly.

We came upon a fountain, springing from a wall. We looked directly behind us. Time gets somewhat muddled here.

Jesus died in Kashmir, feet burned by sawdust stains and stained with soured placenta. That’s what they are saying now. There’s a coffin in Srinavas, and thrice-bent shaven widows circumnambulate the edges, lips buzzing with devotion, stained crimson from betel-nut. This is what they sing.

One day the king of the Sakyas went into the hills
In the seat of beasts he saw a man on a mountain
The man promised auspiciousness
His skin was fair, he wore white garments.
Neither were from London.

He knew of another god, long before, who gulped down an ocean of poison and soaked his matted hair with vital torrents. His throat turned blue, his armoury of icons increased. That was all. Deptford cannot see beyond its own island status.

The temple gardens are London, after all. Let us throw our shoes onto the fire, boys. The city barely exists at the best of times. If indeed it ever did – there is a man who used his only wish to twist his knuckles into earth and spend his time mountain-like. „No”, a young Visigothic voice interrupts. „It wasn’t a parable, it was a story. Not mountain-like. Mountain. Looking at a german town, seeking thin-fingered dancers”

Time again, through Whitechapel’s broken Egyptian dialects, peppered with sandaldust. Muttering to his sons about the ignited gas cloud that heralded him, the first seven steps that bore flowers (why does nobody remember that?) and maybe wishing for a tectonic stillness granted to anonymous Europeans, wandering through a village fair. The spell on Golgotha was hard for the academic imitators, too – they still wake with the whitened gash beneath their ribs aching. They pulled him down, smashed his scaffold into a hundred thousand relics to sit inside a thousand effigies, while a thin-fingered redhead waited to dance, while the widows sharpened their razors and lathered their scalps.

Time gets somewhat muddled here.

The Sufi forgot to translate for us, and we found ourselves in a garden. A child slid between Tottenham car-tyres, and tried to catch something in a cup. I thought they were grasshoppers, you supposed something quite different. This was never my youth. He was wearing a clean shirt.

„There is a fountain” you said, and pointed.

„Yes”.

„A healing fountain?” You looked at the peeling skin of your palms, and rubbed them until I looked away. Stigmata was always wishful thinking, the Jungians cried. I watched you drive a rusty chisel through the gaps between your sinew. The wishful thinking was mine, not yours.

„I could not say”

I left by the western gate, I suspect you followed close behind. The skin on my hands cracks and splinters like a tree bearing a carpenter. We sit in a tunnel.

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About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University. View all posts by Benjamin Norris

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