A giant flag draped behind the nation’s leaders. A faded flag hanging limply in an antique shop in a small town. A book of ensigns on a shelf next to tea sets and cracked crockery, medals and vinyl records and gas masks.
A woman standing proudly in front of a house. A family on the beach. An old motor car. The car of a man and woman. The house and family of a man and woman. A woman standing proudly in an old photograph in a tatty album, on a dusty shelf, forgotten beside the flags, in an antiques shop.
I can’t get into it, said Alex, shaking his head, turning his palms upward. The conversation is one that is built around a vocabulary linked inextricably to a standardised and, yes, populist argument put forward by the ruling classes. It doesn’t matter which side you take in the argument, the fact that you’re using their words is always used against you to prove you’ve accepted their terms, accepted the proposal, the game. You’re midwife to the delivery of your own subjugation. But let me ask you a question: do you think silence is really just silence? Or something else?
Can you see it? asked James. Corrina was squinting into the May sunlight.
It was somewhere over there but I can’t make it out exactly.
But the cottage was around here?
Here? Somewhere over there, near the horizon, past the trees, where it’s all blue with the distance and haze.
We could drive around the lake, James suggested, placing an arm round her shoulder. She shook her head:
We’d get lost. I just can’t remember. I can’t remember the room even. Or him. What he really did. I was so young. We drove off. I promised to forget. It’s just…
That a life builds, grows
Is what she had heard.
But it sometimes felt
It was as if a life
Started with a mountain
A mass of granite
And then things happened:
Events, thoughts. The mountain
Was chipped away at
Tiny etchings, furrows –
Surfaces scuffed, worn –
From the corrasions
Of many histories.
All that stuff that happens –
Happens to – as if
A man had no part
In events, that they
Were inflicted –
That he was a victim
When no, no.
That man is no mountain.
He built his own downfall.
He deserves what he gets.
A clear blue sky and two planes crossing it, one after the other, perhaps too close, turning southerly.
As is often, here, at this time, there is talk of politics. Governments this, ministers that, history and security, links to conspiracies.
An older man and a younger man are looking skyward, standing, waiting. One holds a phone, the other a book. Concrete under their feet; jackets zipped, hands gloved; scarves.
“One things leads to another: that’s world events.”
They stand silently, as if alone, fixed upon the planes and their trajectories; one following the other, hoping they are not too close.