Weak evening sunlight from between hills across the reservoir. Ringed now with steel spikes painted green and glowing. Domain of cats and foxes, mice, car thieves, mind-crippled wouldbe saints and policemen looking for junkies and teenage couples. Where concrete and stone from an old wall lump together in one spot to make a broken throne. Overlooking a broken kingdom of remodelled schoolfields and replanted hedgerows and hidden estate grasslands and flatpack white houses and blood-golden roof slates. Behind the throne the cold reservoir water lapping at granite stones and a red-rusted jetty. Hours spent sitting there witnessed only by ancient lightning-charred pine and lost house cats.
future hours would bring stories and memories. stories of eels in the dark water like strands of hydra hair to catch swimmers' feet. Memories of traveller kids diving off the jetty one afternoon in wetsuits and shorts. With the disappearance of the light the reservoir bottom also vanished and that great trench opened to the centre of the world. a moving core like a lost heart. Bats silently skimming and twisting overhead, only heard as movements of air. Voices at the edge of consciousness floating closer on a distant path over a high wall and growing loud then fading again. A path that led from one suburb to another through schoolgrounds deep and insane with shadows and trees and long grass. Memories of drinking there years ago, laughing and running and falling over, standing drunk at the reservoir's edge thinking nothing but NOW NOW NOW
Stories of walking off the jetty at night and sinking into the abyss. How only one of pure heart could swim to the other side and only one of great courage could brave the clutch of eels and the ice clawing at the chest and the face. Stories of the old king and queen who ruled that place before it was broken, when the throne was whole and the land was whole and the reservoir was a lake fed by springs from hills unspoilt by apartment blocks and offices. When the school sent generations of sages from its gates each year in pulses that spread through the world. When the king and queen loved each other and loved their son and daughter and loved the land. And how in their way they also thought NOW, they thought NOW NOW, before the lightning blasted the old pine and before all the houses fell asleep and began to look the same, before there was a future the king and the queen were in love NOW NOW NOW
I pity the king frozen and sad deep in my mind, the queen pale and lost deep in my mind, the child hoped-for and afraid deep in my mind. The sun glinting from the far horizon and the night falling. Moths and weeds and the long walk along the water's edge - water ritual, stone ritual, ritual of memory. Stories of the child who inherited a broken world. What could he do but say to himself that he must save it. The broken thing, fixed. The broken bird, healed. The king and the queen, rescued. To sit by the shore once more and hold hands, old dry hands, old ashen robes, and smile at each other and at the restoration of the world. How the child would swim the dark water and brave the abyss and find the lost talisman. How the earth would slough off the crust of a hundred years and flow into nature again. the river and the hills and the sun and the sky and the trees and birds and cats and all of it wakened up and resurgent. There at the centre of the mind, sunken to the quick of it: the healer. Memories of loneliness. Solitude and birdsong in long bright mornings while his parents slept. Stories of solitude. How the one alone becomes the only one.
Hundreds of heavy mornings in the glass canyons and the choked cataracts of the kingdom. A million feet in military lockstep across the new millennium's bridges. For all of us a throne and for all of us a vista of numbers and letters, endless liquid crystal prayerwheels spun and shining all day long in the dead city. Chanting the names of gods unknown until now. The kind of gods that crawl out of the rubble of a shattered place, full of shadow and sadness and obsession. The king and the queen nothing now but memories of ancient statues of mythical characters, abstracted through endless layers of mind and lost to NOW.
Mother, father, this wind is so cold and we have been lost for ten thousand lifetimes. So many years since you were warm. So many years until that far green future when the kingdom will be healed. And here I am lost in the NOW as I always was. Chanting NOW NOW with my palms together and my eyelids wet with remembering how you used to smile and how once the coldest roads all led back to the same warm place. Crying please NOW, please come back NOW NOW, not in that dim past or that far future but oh please NOW NOW NOW let there be a beautiful end