first it was tied to the roof by a piece of string, then it hung on the wall, then she threaded the string between her teeth
first it smelt of roses and then of disinfectant, after which there was a national crisis as roses everywhere began to lose their scent, and odour became something they argued about incessantly, until years later both went to university to learn more about olfactory matters
first it was an old woman, and then it was a baby, and then it was a teenager, and each threaded round her waist a ribbon, handing the loose end to the next in what appeared to be a queue organized according to a mathematical principle for which we all had a high regard but none of us could understand
then it became a shape which you could only remember clearly because it had disappeared, but everyone else described it in ways you did not fully recognize, so you never knew whether what they talked about was it or not, especially since they never mentioned thorns, or silk, or ribbons, and they all said anyway that they were suffering from amnesia, depression and doubt, and suggested that you sell up everything and start again
then it seemed to belong to a woman in a coat who was kneeling and saying prayers in a non-recuperable language, but other voices said she has stolen it and that her prayers were evil valedictions, even so you doubted whether you had any claim on it, though at times she raised her head and stared at you baring her rotting teeth and smiling as if she expected something from you
then you remembered a theatre performance where you had seen images that ushered it in, sounds that might stand in for it, words that could move it, and you also remembered that during the performance lights came off and on over the stage never brightening anything in its entirety, and actors divested of their usual roles hurled notes into the audience which said a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
then a messenger delivered it to you on your birthday and left it on your doorstop, you took it in but you could not live with it, it gave you high blood pressure, bad vibes, headaches and pimples, and although you had always wanted to call it yours, and would have gambled everything on it, you gave it notice, hoping it might continue to be itself and yours but out of sight
yet sending it away seemed to bring it closer, and its thick smell hung everywhere, sometimes vile, sometimes alluring, you used it for everything from calming nerves to tax avoidance, and you lost a great deal of time trying to find words to talk about, fend off, displace, defend it
and there was a risk that this would have continued, but in the end her teeth began to fall out, there was a power cut in the theatre, disinfectant was superceded in the advertising wars by bleach, and they found a way of making thorn-less roses
so first became last and you learned to be indifferent to it, though you continued to read, dream, squander and disbelieve it, and it is currently disenfranchised, seductive and revengeful, staking claims upon your patch while always scampering on to somewhere else
|© Copyright 2006 Hazel Smith & Trout.
|This issue of Trout is sponsored in part by UNESCO.