Practical Myth-Making

R.F. Langley

So then. Here, after all, is the old
earthquake, the old horse bolting as the
cyclist passes on his velocipede.
I was ready for exactly that.
The headlines in the paper on the
table next to my breakfast setting.
Nothing jumped. It came in quietly. It
was too simple to be much of a
person. But I could talk to it, have
words with it, the Declaration of
the War on France, while dust motes lazed it
through the kitchen. Could I not wheedle
with it? Make it a conversation?
I was always screwed up for the thump,
for things askew, slightly, teetering
along the top of the wall, slewing
black newsprint across my white linen.
A whiff of fox from the hot box hedge.
Woodsmoke from the almshouses. Catkins
and small crimson quiffs on the hazel.
Kiss every glimmer. Get things to glance
over here, pay me some heed, set their
caps at me. Was I not ready for
them? The proof of woodsmoke cut short
by the impossible stink of fox?
Speculations are sent wheeling through
the grass. The first light. Warm earth. Cold air.
Guttation. The drops are shaken and
tremble. I recognise these simple
people, who quake and bolt and spark and
float, and almost find themselves in what
they do, but look out, too, for me, so
we can wrangle. A legendary
creature stages its arrival in
this room, chooses the typeface, spreads
the white tablecloth, stands me in front
of it. Seventy years of this vague
foreboding. I stop to rock back on
my heels, to feel the iron of the
road. I become a target from all
angles. The catkins steady and take
aim, the buds deploy down twigs, open
cracks, push out minute bloody pistils.