March 2012 - Vol. 58

Landfall - a prose poem in 3 parts

Part 1 - Genesis

God looked down on the earth. There were many things there that he had made. There were men and women; tillers of earth, carriers of water and hewers of stone.  There were birds in the air and creatures that swam in the sea. There were powerful volcanoes, ocean waves and small breezes that rustled the bushes and played about the tops of the trees. There were cities of great wealth and power, towns which heard his voice and followed his law and there were villages, hamlets and great modern capitals which did not. Everywhere God looked upon what he had made. But he did not see the man.

God knew the man. The man was his. And God searched upon the earth for the man that he knew – but did not find him. God looked in the forest, but the man was not there. He looked in the city, searching through apartments and houses. In the bus depot and in the library, in the cinema and in the shopping centre he looked - but the man was not there. God combed every field and pasture of the country, he lifted the streams and felt beneath their beds. He sifted the sand by the sea shore - but the man was not to be found there.   God ran his fingers upon the ridges of the mountains and through the grains of sand in the desert – but he did not find the man.  So he created him.

God closed his fist about the nothing. He stretched and pulled it into shape. God carved the shape upon his hand and fashioned the man. He made him to stand upright and shaped his feet and limbs. He put his likeness upon his face and his mark upon his forehead. He breathed his life into the man, and he was. 

The man lived on the earth. He knew his Father. The man lived in the city, in the house of his parents. He was small. His mother would hold his hands in hers and help him to stand. She held the index fingers of her hands to the man. He curled his small fists around them. The man began to walk upright upon the earth. His mother would help him to walk to the garden and back to the house. She would laugh as he swayed on his small feet and her laugh sounded like the water to the man. The man knew his mother.

The man played with his sister. They had a swing set and a small slide in their garden. The man would play all day in the garden and wait for his father to come home. His father would catch the man in his arms and throw him in the air. The man would laugh. He knew his father and his mother and his sister. When the weather was fine, they would eat dinner in the garden beneath the pear tree. 

The man walked with God. When he was small, he did not see God every day but he knew him and he could hear him. The man began to talk. The man talked to his father and his Father answered. Sometimes the man did not know what to say to his Father so he said nothing. Then, he sat with God in the world. The man began to know the world. The world had a back garden and a house and a front garden. The front garden had a drive running through it. On the drive was a red car and behind the car was an orange gate. The man could see through the gate and the car could go through it but the man could not. 

The man began to grow. He had short spiky hair and skinny legs and pointy knees. His teeth were a little crooked because he fell and bit the world and his teeth were a part of the world now. The world was a house and the back garden. The world was a front garden, and the drive in the front garden and the gate and the footpath up to the shops and the footpath down to Mary Meacle’s house. The world was the car and school and church before school and grandma’s house and sweets and the park and the library on Fridays and walking home from school with his mother and bananas. 

The man liked the world most of the time. When the bananas were brown and it rained and he fell and scraped his knee he did not like the world, but this did not happen all the time. He told his father about the world and God understood. God loved to see the man he knew in the world he had created. 

Part 2 - Fall

The man walked with God. He walked with God in the park and on the bus and in the city. The man walked with God on the shore of the lake that had two rivers and one island. The man walked with God in the shop and on his bike when he was cycling and in the gym where he went to try and lift weights and not fall over. The man walked with God and he talked to him. The man talked to him less than before, because the man knew other people to talk to now. He talked to his Father and he talked to his father and he talked to his mother and to his sister and to his teachers and to the driver on the bus. The man talked to the people on his soccer team and the man in the shop. And the man talked to God. 

The man grew. The man liked to run but it was hard. Running made his legs feel pain. The pain was good because it made his legs stronger and he could run more the next day. But the man did not like to run always. The man grew. Sometimes the man could not hear God anymore. When the man could not hear God he ran on the beach. The beach was far away. When he ran on the beach, the man had to run longer. His legs felt more pain. But the run to the beach was long. When he ran on the beach the man forgot the pain in his legs. The man talked to God on the beach. God always answered the man on the beach. And the man grew. 

One day the man walked to the front gate. There was no red car now, the red car was dead. The car was dark green and low and sleek. It was a saloon.  The car belonged to the man’s father. When he was grown but not up the man learned to drive the car. The car was a Honda. It came from Japan. The car had two seats in the front and a kind of leather bench in the back. The man could feel the engine beneath him as he drove. 

The man’s father showed him how to work the gears and press the break and do a hill-start. He showed him how to steer the car and change lanes and overtake and not drive on the motorway. The man’s mother showed him too but when the man pressed the break the man’s mother pressed the man and said “watch that car” and her voice sounded like the sea when it was angry. The man and his mother did not drive in the car together very often. 

The man drove in the car with his father because he was not allowed to drive in it alone. The man wanted to drive the car alone but he was not allowed. He was not allowed because he was grown but not up and because his Father said so. The man did not like to not drive the car on his own. He wanted to drive the car on his own now. The man did not want to drive the car when the time came. 

The man thought about the car. He could see it every day he walked past the car on his way to the city.  The car was dark green and low and sleek. The man talked about the car to his friends on the bus. 

The man walked with God on the bus and in the city and he talked to his Father about the car, but God did not answer. The man took the bus to the gym. The man walked to the football field and he went to the cinema and he talked to his friends on the bus about the car. The man walked with his father to the beach and with his mother to the shop and with his sister to the park and he thought about the car, but he did not talk about it. He said yes and no and maybe to his father and his mother and his sister. 

The man talked to God about the car but God did not answer. The man went for a run. The car was dark green. The man’s house was on a hill. The car was low. He ran down the hill and up another one. The man ran along the top of the hill to the slope to the beach.  The car was sleek. The man ran down the slope to the beach. The car was dark. It was a long way to the beach, but the man wanted to run on the beach with God and talk about the car. The car was dark green. God always answered him on the beach. The car was low. The man ran on the beach and his feet sank in the soft sand and he asked God about the car but God did not answer because the sand was sleek. The man ran closer to the water where the water had been and his feet did not sink so much in the sand and he asked God about the car but God did not answer because he was dark green. The man ran by the edge of the water where the sand was hard like the road and packed firm like the world and where he could feel the water on his legs but not the wet and he asked God about the car but God did not answer because he was low. The man ran in the surf at the edge of the water and his feet were wet and the sand was very soft and slippy and dark green and God did not answer and his shoes were wet and they slipped off the break and hit the accelerator instead and the car lurched forward across the intersection and bit the other car and turned it around a bit and a woman fell out and bit the ground and stayed there. And the man sat in the car alone and he cried to God and God did not answer but his mother’s voice did and it sounded like the waves of the sea when the wind is up and roaring around the beachhead and tossing the surf against the rocks with terrible power again and again and again and it said “watch that car! Watch that car! WATCH THAT CAR!” 

Part 3 - Redemption

The man opened the door of the car. He felt dead. He looked across the intersection and saw the woman lying upon the road. Her legs were in the car, but her head was on the road. A crowd of people were beginning to gather. The man was afraid. He walked across the intersection and looked at the woman. She had silver brown hair and a small face. Her eyes were closed. The man was afraid. He began to walk away. The people murmured as he passed. He began to walk faster. The murmur became a buzz. And the people closed about him in a ring, forcing him back towards the car. The man began to cry. Cold, salty tears began to fall from his eyes, and he turned back to the woman fallen out of her car. A pool of blood was spreading around her head. The blood was dark brown. The man had always thought that blood was red. A large, strong man had approached the car and was looking at it. There was blood on the door jamb, and on the floor of the car where the woman had fallen out. The man was afraid. He looked at the green car, and the road, and the woman’s car, and the woman. He had done this. 

The strong man turned to him and was about to speak. The man did not want to hear what he was going to say. He knelt down and picked up the woman. The strong man started to shout, but the man did not care. He picked up the woman and walked towards the crowd. They stiffened for a second. The man pressed the woman towards his chest and ran into the center of the people. They parted easily as he ran, but they started to shout, and run after him. The man was afraid.  The man began to run with the woman in his arms. Blood from the woman’s head was on his shirt. He tried to straighten her in his arms as he ran, but the blood fell down her hair and dripped onto his jeans. He tried to keep her forehead level with the ground, facing up to the sky, but it kept slipping as he ran from the crowd down the street, across the estate towards the beach. The woman was difficult to carry. The man could not run as fast as he was able because he was carrying her. But the man knew what to do. He had to get to the beach, and talk to God. God would understand. God would heal the woman. God would make the blood go away again.  The people shouted and began to give chase. The man was afraid and ran faster. He flexed the muscles in his legs, and pushed off on the balls of his feet, and breathed with his nose. One, two, three and four he counted in his head as he ran. The man could hear the crowd running behind him, but they were not catching up. He turned his shoulder as he ran, steadying the woman against his elbow. Some of the crowd had stopped and turned back to the cars. Only some people continued to run after the man. The man could see the strong man in the midst of them. He turned his head and ran for the beach. 

God was not on the beach. The man ran across the sand calling to God. He could not find him.  God was not in the running. The man was afraid. He clutched the woman tighter to him to make her easier to carry, and made to continue running across the sand. She stirred and made a small sound of pain. She was not dead. The man laughed aloud with relief and turned to thank God. He could not find him. God was not in the turning. The man looked back along the beach and saw that the crowd had stopped following him, except for one man. It was the strong man. The man was afraid. The strong man would take the woman away. He would bring her to the hospital where she would die. The strong man would bind the man with chains and throw him into a house forever. The strong man would walk around the house all day shouting murderer, murderer, murderer. The woman was not dead. God could heal the woman. The man knew he had to keep running. He turned and cried to God one more time before he started to run. God was not in the cry. The man was afraid. He began to run.  He ran across the sand. The strong man ran across the sand after the man. The man sobbed and continued to run along the sand.  The strong man followed the man. He did not get closer, and he did not get further away. The strong man followed the man. 

The man ran. He ran across the beach and up the road. He ran along the road and across the river. He ran up the side of the hill and across the plateau, trying to keep the woman’s head level with the sky. He cried out to God, but God was not on the road, across the river, or on the plateau. The strong man ran after him, and the blood dripped down on his jeans. The man ran across the plateau. He ran down the mountainside into the valley. He ran along the dry river bed and scraped his hand on the furze bushes. The woman’s head slipped from the crook of his arm now and again, and blood splashed on the ground. He could not support her head all the time. The man cried out to God, but God was not in the valley, along the dry river bed or in the woman’s head. The strong man ran after him, and the woman’s head lay over the crook of his arm, and blood splashed on the ground. The man ran along the dry river bed to the head of the small stream. The man ran by the small stream as it flowed into a watercourse coming from the east. The man ran along by the watercourse as its height rose, and its banks widened, until it was a great river that could not be crossed.  And the water flowed out into a lake. Beside the lake there grew a tree. And the man thought it was the tree that grew at the center of the earth. The tree grew great and strong, and its top reached to heaven.  And it was visible to the ends of the whole earth, and its foliage was beautiful. Its fruit was low and sleek and green, and it provided food to all. And the man called to God, but God was not in the tree. And the man was tired, and he laid the woman down by the foot of the tree. And he thought - Here I will wait for the strong man to come, and here I will be safe if God will not protect me. 

The man turned to where the strong man had been following him, but he could not see the strong man any more. He looked as hard as he could, but he could see nothing. And a mist rose out from the ground and came towards the man and the woman by the man’s tree. And in the mist the man could hear a voice, and suddenly the man was afraid. And the voice said, cut down the tree, and chop off its branches, and strip off its foliage, and scatter its fruit. And the man clung to the tree, for it would protect him from the strong man. But he could not save it, and the top of the tree was cut off, and the branches began to fall down.  And the woman began to cough, and blood came from her mouth, and she was dying. And the man could not see through the mist, and he cried out to God. And he could hear him, but God was terrible now. And the limbs of the tree were falling off behind him, and the trunk was razed to the ground with a band of iron and bronze, with only a stump and roots left. And the man was weeping aloud to God, and the woman was coughing, and blood came from her mouth, and her life was ending. And there was a terrible crack behind him as the earth opened up across the roots of the tree. And the man fell to the ground in agony, for his heart was torn in two. And he wanted to die, yet he wanted to live, and his life was ending, and he could not save her. And as the man lay dying on the ground, by the roots and stump of the great tree, a shoot rose up from the crack in the ground in the old tree. Faster than the man could see, a shoot grew into a branch, which grew into a trunk, which split in three. And one branch grew to the North, and one to the south, and one straight up. And the woman rose, and lay by the foot of the new tree in the old tree, and died. And the man wanted to die too, but he couldn’t because his heart was still tearing. And he could see the new tree forcing apart the stump of the old, as it grew north and south, and straight up. And the man wanted to run to the new tree, but he couldn’t.  And he wanted to walk to it, but he couldn’t. And he dragged his arm and knee towards it, and crawled along the ground to the new tree straight and tall, and north and south, and fell down on the land in front of the tree. 

The man could hear the horn. It sounded loud and continuous. He heard a voice talking to him. It was not the woman or the strong man. It was not God. He opened his eyes. He could see a policeman. The policeman was talking. The man looked past him. He could see an airbag and a tree that had many branches, but one thick branch from the trunk grew straight up, and one grew north, and one grew south. And the front right nose of the low sleek green car was in the tree that grew straight up, and north and south. And the car was wrapped around it, and the tree was holding up the car, and stopping it from smashing into the house behind. The man looked behind him. There was the intersection, and a patch of oil, and the open road. He lifted his right hand from the wheel and the horn stopped. It was quiet, there was no one else talking. The policeman was saying patch of oil, incredible escape, and the tree saved you, and you should thank your lucky stars no one else was hurt. The man said, I think I died. The policeman said, you didn’t, but you might have. And you should be careful, and where do you live. The man said, “I think I live in that tree”. The policeman looked at him strangely, and took out his phone to make a call.

Prose poem by an Irish dreamer who majored in English literature.
 copyright © 2012  Living Bulwark