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The Thrown Voice


‘The story starts with who you are. I strode at night across the heath to hear a nightjar. It was night which throws her voice inside a bird. I would stand below his song and become cast into creature, into his purled world. The bird could never be seen. It seemed a soft scar of sound as if a lone tree’s bark sang the night’s wound from a lone tree’s bough, and yet heath and bird were grown two in the dark. Those wound, wounded voices were thrown into me, as if bird and tree were hornbooks I could finger and trace and sing aloud. I spoke through night, or night through me and all the creatures of the night sang free. My Gypsies gave tongue to campfire stories but my spell drew speech from the circling heath. I was a magician to them, the magic man to my people. I lost it. I lost my magic when I lost those voices. I cried my eyes out. I have cried my eyes into myself. How can you know what it is like to lose your magic?’ The magician drains his hipflask of whiskey. I catch him under his thin arms and catch myself in surprise, for he weighs no more than a bird, as though the bones were air-blown, his body a wingspan, not a man. I cradle him to earth. ‘What’s gone can be gained again’, he whispers, ‘Take the path across the purling heath;


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