Oh but to read was the greatest thing. The bookshop with perfect spines aligned and that subtle weight in her bag as she carried the book home. She was almost nervous, not knowing yet what those pages would give. That smell of paper and ink, type pressed and clear. Paragraphs and paragraphs, indentations, page numbers, the merest comma. There were worlds in there, languages, experience, psychology. People, complex and doubtful, imperfect and human. She guessed love, hoped. Maybe despair. This story that would be part of her, not part. And then the first words, It happened on her way home
From Siberia and the cold continent they arrive, to make home, however temporary. To eat. To survive. The Great Northern Diver. The Arctic Skua. Waxwing and Redwing. Snow Bunting. Short-eared Owl. Guillemot. Brent Geese in their tens of thousands, huddled in the cold mud of the grey estuaries, arcing over forlorn skies. Oystercatchers from Norway, stabbing the clay with flaming bills; Curlew, somewhere, it is rumoured. The great migrations of the world. While humans forge papers, dignity trafficked and stripped, never to be accepted, caged in a caravan, paying with their lives to survive and eat the carrion carcass freedom.
For many years we have lived a cave. We have been chained, our heads fixed, our gaze transfixed. We have watched shadows, believing them to be real. We have heard echoes, believing them to be true. We have been entrapped by reflections of reality, thinking we understood the nature of the world and that society depended on those shadows.
What would happen if we were released? If we saw the truth that cast the shadows? If we looked into the light of the fire? Would we stand up and turn towards the sun? Would we wish a return to darkness?