Niall Quinn

Phlebas I

The dew and the element of frost hangs over the boneyard and the breath of the perpetual mourner sipping brandy from a quarter bottle cools in the blast of winter stasis air. It succeeds in stimulating layers of memory buried in the efflorescence of sempeternal spring. Colours that in summer trumpet in vivid sun retreat inside each leaf and self illumine. Then the succession to stark clarified winter. The bones of the European are instinct with seasons, inarticulate lacings of change proffering life still lived here and elsewhere in a unitary sweep of transience. Necropoli in mid Wales dovetail a scintillant horizon in Nice. Simultaneity works the intestines of the observer tippling warmth in barter. Body and soul set to common visions beneath the blue. And the daylight curtailed and the smell of woodsmoke trailing wisps on a cloudless windless noon. He quits the bench and walks through avenues of sodden leaves to the voices of the town. The morning now abandoned inhabits memory in climates of social being. Fear descends with the evolution of dark, the dovetail of day and night insinuates something unknown and cloaks it with spectres. All ages conspire to speak the unnameable. Epiphenomena — willows unreflected in the dewy park’s water. Now the waiting begins. Dramas are conceived and sand is blown into shapes connived in fugitive lights. Hours are baffled with stars. Until the wind forces him to change in step, the future will come to meet him, its face haloed in anticipation or surprise. Out of the town to the charging sea, once a grey gloom riddled with grief, a cold hypnotic music. In its turquoise heave the future is recalled and breathed and magic is ignited in mud and the silence of the geese presages communicative silence, swords buried in the ash and the pine. . .