All entries for Sunday 23 October 2005

October 23, 2005

Jude's House

There is a golden cross painted in blood above the door. There is always a fire burning inside; thin fingers of smoke reach out from the chimney in prayer to the unnamed. This is the house that takes so long to get to that no matter how many times youíve walked the path to the door, youíll still only get there the moment before youíre about to give up.

Casualties of causes
Lost lie listless in the lounge
Covered in comforters,
Big blankets over bolsters and blood
Soaked away in sheets of stratus
Cloud cotton.
Patched up in patchwork rugs
Wrapped in white wool, waiting
By the burning embers
Of the dying dreams

Cosiness is relative.
The scent of baking wafts through the place:
Familiarity after days of standing on shifting sands.
Here there is no need for hope.

A man, walking in the desert at night to avoid the searing sun, looks up at the stars. They have illuminated nothing for him. Not even the faint edges of a bad poem. He can trace the constellations he invented because he did not know the real ones; too bad no-one will ever teach him their real names now. The sands around him, dead rock and ground down bone and shell, whisper with a thousand dead voices of barrenness, despair and loss. He shouts that he will not listen, and the hungry land swallows up even that. He turns his face to the heavens, and does not see the black chasm opening up at his feet.
He clings on where there is nothing to cling on to. The sand slowly trickles away from beneath his grip like an hourglass marking time until his eventual demise. He knows itís coming, knows there is nothing more he can do but count the seconds, not knowing if there are thirty, twenty, ten, two. He mutters a brief prayer, and lets go.

Jude finishes his stint at the Last Chance Saloon
Sweeping up the dregs of the evening,
Heads through the swing doors out into the dark.
Listens to prayers he canít answer,
And sadly floats away.

Old friend and patron, you and I know each other well. I have walked your walk many times along the edge of the precipice, the curved graph line that dangles over the edge of infinity. Yours is the hand that promises nothing Ė the two seven off suit. Yours is the storm tossed boat on the vast ocean. Yours is the last grasping hold before the long descent. Yours is that hour of the night that grows darkest, when the dawn that seems so far off is closer than you think. Yours is the hand that stretches out through the black fog that no other can penetrate. You are the unexpected, un-hoped for miracle.

You used to like stories told by word of mouth.
The old ones are the best, arenít they, Jude?
Yeah. The old ones.
Your cousin, was he your cousin, Jude?
He used to tell some great ones.
And he always had the best wines.
Where is he now, Jude?

And the door creaks open on well worn hinges, his footsteps are heard in the hall.
His coat is dropped on the banister rail, and the kitchen kettle sings out a welcome.

The bedroom light no longer works.
We sleep shrouded in a velvet cloak
Soft, soundless slumber. Numbed
By the sickly scent of lilies.
Serenaded by the singing of swans.
Sunset comes, and the evening star
Slowly slips over the horizon, slinks
In at the window, silent as a whisper.

A constant candle crouches
At the bedside, and Jude,
The memory of a mother
Holds one helpless hand
Soothes the passing of the night.

Sometimes all that is left is oblivion,
The last mercy is the call when no other dares
And we obey, and turn again home.

What is home?
The refuge, the last retreat
The end of the road.
Jude heads to the study and surrounds himself with cosy prose.
Writes his diary
Goes to bed.

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