Neubooterdammerung, 3: Jane Burn

Getting to Grips with Island Life

They have no phones. The only links they need are to the Earth.
They place their ears to the ground, hear the hidden rhythms
of living dirt. They place their lips to the leaf mould, babble
apologies into the brackish mirk – a penance for aeons of poison.

They have discovered the intricate joy of weaving cloth –
the loom busies the evening room with cadent jolts. Jacob
did not know this useful, gentle skill lived in his fingertips.
He swells with pride as patient skill has covered the skin

of his friends. In warp and weft there are no thoughts of war,
no badger culls, no fracking. No carbon emissions! he squeaks,
pouring his love into another length of scarf. Michael fondly looks
to where Jeremy sits, watching the peat-flames, stroking the cloth,

snug round his neck like a pet. Amber plans to express her joy
through the medium of contemporary dance. Tomorrow
she will teach them how to wind their bodies into loops. David
will not come indoors. He has found new joy in the pig-pen, rolls

with his bristled friends in soft delights of mud, waits to be fed,
froths his mouth on a goodness of pungent veg. Has found
a spiritual home. Boris fills a stall in the byre and ruminates,
burps up lungfuls of petal scented hay. He remembers money

but can’t bring to mind what it’s for. It felt like leaves, he muses,
swapping weight from leg to leg. His mates wear pelts of every colour.
How blended he feels. At peace. Anne-Marie hoes her patch, is growing
a glut just so she can share. Nobody ought to go hungry, not when

I have so much, she hums as she weeds. A rhythmical chanting
leaks from the shed. Theresa pedals her foot-powered lathe.
She thrives in industry, beams rude health, looses her pallor
to honest graft. Whittler-skilled, she readies her offerings.

Lovespoons for everyone! Michael will squat in the story tent,
children circled at his feet – tell tales of truth, teach them to love
books, question those in power. None of them know where Nigel is.
Loosed on the moor, he is little seen, sometimes heard, speaking

in tongues, coat of bracken flapping in the wind. He can do no harm.
They have tried to master porridge – have learned to love the lumps.
Debated long on sweet or salt and so, add both in liberal showers,
gasp at the way the sprinkled crystals catch the light.

They sent a message by carrier pigeon late last June – by August
the bird brought an answer back – I am coming by coracle.
Have much ocean to cross. Donald will manage the ricks of straw –
will rake and store, weave dollies, worship the spirit of grain.

His flossy hair will catch stray chaff. Liam will fondly pluck
it out.They marvel at everything. It takes three hours to walk
ten yards to the beck. Five if they see a snail. How could we have
forgotten this simple joy of things? They all want to fill the pail –

re-enamoured they, with such unpretentious tasks. Chris will stay
all day, sailing a fleet of folded paper boats. How much value
in even the frailest being! What beautiful meaning they find in
the small of everyday! Like being healed. Like being born again.

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