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IV

It crept with the silence of light – then, with the speed of the wind, came rushing through the night with the sound of bones snapping clean and joints popping.

The fire-bell rang, its cold vibration – solid and thick. Its tone, shivering through flesh. Its sound – filled with urgency as waves of steel panic rung off with every pound of the iron bar.

Men dressed and scrambled into the night with wet sacks, stripping branches off any tree.

*

Like a distant nightmare it came in a dream. Fire, rising from the horizon, burning on its edge: a crown for that which will raise its fiery head and fill the dreamer with its light.

At the foot of the bed it appeared: translucent, pale and heavy – garnering no fear, summoning me to where we stood out beneath the evening sky: there, it held my hand as the moon and stars orbited its head.

With a long polished claw it pointed into the night – pointing far beyond reason, intellect and memory. What lay there was uncertain yet all too clear, a colourless mud; it offered to take me there, but on one condition: I shall go forever.

The lemur rolled the moon on its tongue, sucked softly, waiting for my reply. Its breath smelt of aniseed. It said nothing and still pointed far beyond with its arm bridging distance – offering it all; as easy as that, as easy as crossing

Distance

& what lies beyond distance, and transgresses through all time.

Outside, tears streamed down my face – voices, and hands on my shoulders ushering me back: But where to? Have I reached there? or still walking back, bloody and wet – my father tucking me into the standby bed. The worn mattress suspending tomorrow indefinitely.

*

Dancers, curtains of flames – souls burning – flushing forward, pulling back – arms flinging, bodies melting in and bursting out. We stood before the dancers – faces bronze-hot, tractors heaving up – cutting fireguards behind us.

Chuff, smoke, the crackle and whistling of burning, deep in the heartland

64

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