Friday, September 30, 2005

a story of love (ali smith)

... we were sitting up, leaning on each other in the early morning light; now that it was May the light came in just before three and soon there would be almost no dark at all. Birds sang and leaves lifted, and the door to your bedroom was always open because all the doors in the house warped in the summer. You leaned back, and began a story;
There was once, you said, someone who was in love with the sky.
Yes, I said, and I could see the sky spread out before her as she ran towards it with her arms out, a never-ending blue, travelling steadily round the world with the weather racing below it, nothing above the clouds but light. I held your hand, and closed my eyes. I imagined her saving her money so she could go up in planes and jump out of them, free-falling through the empty air. She loves the sky, I thought, because it's the one thing in her life that will always be there, that will never go away. She probably loves trees too, and puts her arms around them in the park to speak to all the years ringed into their trunks.
You were still talking. And so, in the end, you were saying, his mother gave in and saw how good it all was and stopped being ashamed and let them live together, so they got a flat in London and settled down and were happy ever after. The end.
Who settled down? I said. Who lived together? I don't get it. How could you settle down in a flat with the sky?
You looked hard at me as if I was mad.
Unless she lived in a top flat, did she? I said. And she put in dormer windows. So she could see it above her all the time.
Your mouth fell open and you looked at me as if I was speaking in a language you couldn't understand. I was frightened. I couldn't think why you were looking at me like this. But you burst out laughing. Not the sky, you said. Not the sky. There was once a man who was in love with this guy.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

goldfish nation (wendy cope)

In the pond
There are no bombs, no guns, no bullets.
There is no property and no television.
The pond is the territory not of humans
But of the goldfish.
He is better than you.

Goldfish play.
They do not work.
They do not set the alarm clock
And get up at half past seven
And get on a crowded commuter train
And go to the office.
They are playful creatures.
Goldfish play.
Their games are non-competitive -
Swimming into a space and twisting,
Looking for another space.
All day long it's like PE
In a progressive infant school.

Goldfish are intelligent.
They anser to their names.
Go out and sprinkle
Just a pinch of fish food
As you call to them

And see them rising from the muddy depths
To greet you. Sunshine. Goldy.
Flipper. Bertrand Russell.
Maharishi. Name your goldfish
After holy men and sages.
It is appropriate.

'Look on the goldfish,' say the Inkuwala,
'And be at peace.'

The Watatooki of Wideawake Bay
Have a different saying:
'He who contemplates the goldfish
Will grow wiser than a frog.'

Albert Eames of Norwood Fish Society
Believes that his goldfish, Lucky,
Is a bringer of good fortune.
'It's a well-known fact,' he says
'That many goldfish owners in Sout London
'Have won prizes with their Premium Bonds.'

The sex life of the goldfish, it has to be admitted,
Is somewhat less exciting
Than the mating of whales.

The fact is goldfish do not have a sex life.
They breed without physical contact,
Shedding enormous quantities of sperms and eggs
Into the water.

Hundreds and hundres of sperms are attracted
To each egg
And each one tries to bore its way through the shell
But only one succeeds in doing so.

After fertilization, the egg faces tremendous hazards,
Including the danger of being eaten
By the very fish who gave it life.

But some survive. The fry swim. They eat.
They grow. Their scales ripen to gold.
And they play.

Like Buddhists,
Goldfish are disinclined
To get into an argument.
They do not discuss interest rates
Or debate the ordination of women.
On these matters they seem to have no opinion.
They prefer to play.

Ludic, aureate creatures,
Silently chanting, Om,
Gazing at reality with round, unblinking eyes.
Water-angels, glinting in the sunlight.

It's obvious that goldfish are better than people.
Goldfish are better than you.