Wednesday, June 08, 2016

From Austral

We were ragged and sunburnt and lean. We lived on what we could forage and catch. We avoided other people, made long detours around villages and settlements. I swam several times in the sea, once in churning surf, once amongst greasy slicks of bull kelp, once among penguins that shot past me like torpedoes, trailing long wakes of silvery bubbles. Mama swam too, but never for very long – the water was too cold for her. We saw fish eagles play fighting above a fjord, locking claws and plunging towards the water and breaking apart at the last minute, over and again, and on our traverse of the Forbidden Plateau we descended into a crevasse and clambered over blocks fallen from the ice bridges that curved overhead and found at its far end a solemn cathedral vault and a tumble of ice descending into depths we did not dare to investigate, everything lit by a glow as holy and blue as radioactivity.

The days and days of walking blur together and it’s hard, now, to tell dreams from actual memories. I remember climbing to Mapple Valley’s high southern crest and seeing a panorama of parallel razorback ridges of black rock bare as the moon stretching away under the sky’s cloudless blue. I remember a circle of upright stones in a mossy chapel in the forest below the Forbidden Plateau, lit by a beam of sunlight slanting between the trees. The glass and concrete slab of some plutocrat’s back-country house cantilevered out from cliffs overlooking Wilhelminia Bay. The broken castle of an orphaned iceberg grounded on a rocky shore, with freshets of sparkling meltwater cascading down its fluted sides and a thick band of green algae tinting its wave-washed base. But did we really see, in the pass between Starbuck and Stubb Fjords, an albino reindeer poised near the thin spire of an elfstone named The Endless Song of the Air? Did we glimpse a pyramid set on a remote bastion of bare rock in the ice and snow of the Bruce Plateau? I’ve looked long and hard, but I’ve never been able to find it on maps or in satellite images. And did we really see people dancing naked in a circle around a huge bonfire in a forest glade near Tashtego Point? I can’t be certain that it wasn’t one of my dreams, but whether it was real or imaginary the memory of it still wakes the pulse of their drums in my blood.


Anonymous Nathan said...

Love It!

June 09, 2016 12:05 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Impressive landscape painting.

June 09, 2016 4:40 pm  

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