Northwords Now Issue 39

The FREE literary magazine of the North


by Nicola Madill

I shall come closer for this. To the bell weight of its coldness and the mirk of its planet.  To the soft scalloped clouds, the creases of skies and its marble thick walls. I see dust from galloping horses with light balanced on top. Then smoke from high school experiments billowing from small fingers and faces disappeared.  Even closer to the veins of the parchment, the beryl of its skin.

I used to own one. A friend turned up with it one day, something about a customer paying for spectacles with gold-crested canes and oils, and he hoisted it into my cupped hands.  It stood proud on its balustrades in my living room.  The eye of the wizard.  My boiler broke that year, then my shower, then my washing machine.  In the darkness, doors slammed shut, radiators swallowed their hesitations, tears dripped from the taps with no comforting hands.  

I didn’t take any money for it.  In front of a yawned open boot and its mouthful of treasures.  Caution-filled eyes in exchange for stroking hands and the mouth of a child.
But what is it about them that enchants so many of us?  Is the now not enough? Time without illusion? Perhaps not, when today we spend so much of our time peering into glass screens. I think back in time, to when Druids consulted with clues and messages morphing from the marbles of the throats made of glass.  The very essence of prayer.

In the music fantasy film Labyrinth, David Bowie twists orbs through his fingers like a magician rolling coins. What the viewer does not see are the arms of juggler, Michael Moschen, who is standing behind Bowie, manipulating the objects.  Camera trickery provides the deception.
When I was a child, I used to lie on the old brown carpet in the living room, bathing in a warm parallelogram of sun.  Hair brushes becoming centipedes, chairs becoming ladders.  

And sometimes now, I feel as though I am a multi-souled person living in one being; turned down pages, my keys become hidden, fresh cups of tea.  It sends me spinning, returning to moments I thought were understood to find deeper truths. Continuing to learn that my life is not one straight line, but a serendipitous curve back to memory and people: an eternal return.

When I was younger, I visited a fortune-teller.  I waited patiently to be told if I would be pretty or if I would be rich, as her head hovered above my hands, eyes peering into my palms and creases. The grey roots on her head became a forest clearing. I wondered if she saw a phantasmagoria of trails of wanderlust footsteps or best-selling records or gigs packed by the hundreds or tent-skinned villages of ancestors waiting to meet me at a ruby-red sundown.  Instead she told me: You will be married…You will mother…You will make your own destiny, while my money piled up in fast smoke.  
As I look into my reflection during a bedtime now ritualised, a blurred body of post-it notes floats in my peripheral vision, each furled like ruffled feathers carrying messages from my younger self.  I can see the moon in my window, veiled by ribboned skies.  I come a little closer to the mirror and sweep the cotton over the skin, around my right eye, tightening my face.  When I take my hand away, the skin falls and a hairline mountain stream is captured, glistening silently in the dimly lit room.