The aphorism is a form with a benchmark drawn in its side. Like the beekeeper taking his stand in the garden, it requires the prolonged use of miniaturized verbal trestles that can be dismantled once the swarm has gone. These are its terms of infrequent reference; when the flags have been reefed in and the standard bearers dragged up out of the rich loam where they fell, mouldy shoots find less to constrict and readdress themselves to. A row of beans splits open the tomb of the unknown intern, who died of prosodic heart failure. Lineation grows stale from overcoming the hedger’s reluctance. Up-country verges start to ramble with xenophobic relays of idiot vetch. Too much mildewed freight was left in pallets on the docks of ancient Europe, and the history of being in beds has many more things to answer for than sheer afflation at the roots of the burning crops.
The delver’s quick stabs at the start of his work endow the occupying power with memory loops of ritual immersion and the calibrated loss of value. Hoplite wars on tradition depend on this sapper’s molestation and on the geographical pretension of an open field. Once the ditches have disappeared, the rhythm of tiler and slater, no hand signals, will be translated into a bag of shadows inside a furnace. There will be no undoing the blackness then. The only means of linking the valleys into which the scare-mongers have taught us to migrate is already on file: like the reselections of guilt, silhouettes against the dimmed lights of a back kitchen, a meeting of worsted colleagues who freeze as the shape-shifter comes up the path.
The sinking and rising of lakes is the sole rhythmic variation on a theme of universal erosion. Ramps and duckboards are the only known defence against a poesis of finely milled edges and transferable costs, of goatish insularity and jury-rigging. This cordons off one frozen chamber from another and ensures the maximum hibernation period for structural change. With no blanket and with head spinning in the Northern cold, I see the doubling waves and hear the wind fluting under cowls on shipboard. Good luck grows in the night, if it would just wait. There will only ever be red struggle and blue elision, fighting each other down corridors in smoke.