The Map of Antarctica

Fictions for Unseen Spaces

Month: November, 2015


I wake. Recently my dreams are more tangible than my days. My thoughts are more physical than my body. Everything has disappeared. I hold out my hand beneath the tap in the bathroom but the water passes through my fingers. Nothing collects. Nothing gathers and everything is left in disarray, without association. I look around my bedroom and see a boat, a kettle, a deer. I struggle but find no connection between the three. The deer looks back at me. Tilts its head as if trying to understand something. I go downstairs and make toast. The sink is full of fish. Mackerel with stripey backs. Their eyes gape hollowly at the ceiling. I spread the butter thickly and bite down. The clock says ten past eight. I pull on my coat and the lion roars on the stairs. Opening the front door I see it is snowing. I step outside, shake off the night. I do not notice the spider’s thread attached to the back of my neck keeping me connected to the house.


A Long Way From America

I feel a long way from America

and America is what I was learning.

Through books and film and music and people

I straddled the Atlantic

imagining the galleries

and the libraries.

But the waves were strong,

and much like Salvador Alvarenga,

the man who got lost on a boat for 14 months,

I sometimes felt I had no nation.

The stars

I could be sure of.

But countries are like that.

Strong and invisible,

Rooted deep into our psyche.

I could never mistake

that it was the streets of England

that my visions of America were contained within,

that down the road and near the water

was the screen that has long projected Hollywood,

that in the houses, next to the worn furniture

are the books that transmitted New York

past the eyes, to the brain

where I again will build

a place that someday I won’t have to remember.

I will just be able to look and see.

Until then I will shave

and turn up for work

at the university that lights up lecture theatres at night

for talks on the slave trade.

Legacies are in place

but let them not get overblown,

our people will soon see eye to eye

and speak of common things.

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