Strange Impressions




Suddenly your body filled the entire cave. The water was rushing around your legs and all you had to do to harness it was push yourself into the air. So you’re a god afterall, you realise, and breathe a sigh of relief. You part space like a knife every time
you move.

*******




In the dream you said our conversations were like opera, and then you walked away. I wanted to show you the plants on the pathway, I had to gather them out of the dirt like the tendrils of an octopus. I felt good because I knew we would be warm and dry and full of sparkling laughter at the table. Thinking of that made me happy, and I lay back on the concrete to feel the wind.

*******




The gymnast slips down the wall contorting through shadows. She’s with the man in the basement, he’s standing in the spotlight eating from a sack of apples. You’re watching her powdered face from the corner, waiting for the hook, the rain, the ritual to begin. Another day you might have stopped yourself, but today never ends. You ask ‘do you think of me?’, and she says ‘your eyes, your lips, your hands, your skin’.

*******




In the imprint of your palm I found a spirit, it was my job to investigate it while the fire burned over the ocean. We moved past a mountain full of holes, I knew once I started to look I might never be able to come back. Faces eviscerating into smoke, blue shapes circling your body, and you’re locked here, tragedies everywhere, selfishly free.

*******




You balanced on the chair in the dark arena, something monstrous was breathing on stage. I tried to take photos but none of them captured your feat. We were asked to stay inside, but the building started to collapse. I tried to hold you but you were lost in the rubble. Not everyone wanted to help, someone yelled to us from below, I felt like an impostor in my own life.

*******




Your eyes rolled into the back of your head as you lay on the printer, plastic digging into your ribs, intestines spilling onto the carpet. Your thoughts cling to the owners, the woman at the table glowing with sweat, the bronze man disappearing from view. As the earth turns and the ice melts, and time slows right before it ends, you know that you will always have what you never wanted, and that all you truly need is chaos.

*******




‘Everything’s all mixed up’ she says out loud to herself. Ash falls onto the slab of mince she holds in a reluctant grip. Men drive past in drop top jeeps, opressive magenta light refracting off bared teeth. ‘We’ll never survive this’, she thinks, and turns to the left as her dog chokes on thin air. When it happens, it’s happened.

*******




You tumbled out of the train and into the pit. The black jaguar slipped into the forest and you slid down the dirt holding onto the roots, remembering the natural way of things. Underneath the lagoon you notice a tendril of light and the giant creature laughs at you. When you think of forever, forever waves and disappears into a crowded room.

*******




You nod, you agree, you know. You just want to find a place without any cars. You want the man to hold your face on the grass while you watch people with white trainers walk on the forest floor with bags and helmets, dreaming of well ventilated apartments. You remember the girl at the stadium in yesterday’s weather, she could be you or me, and you feel every second of your skin as it moves under the floodlights, grinding your bones to dust.

*******




Is it mania? Is it love? You stand on the emptiest highway in the canyon. The girls in soft jumpers are cropping their photos. Together you fall around on the wind in echoes of laughter, cackling and disgustingly joyous. A dull pink light floats through your hair. You brush your hand on the dust and it responds. Nothing can stop you from collapsing in putrid rapture at the acute temptation to ruin.

*******




In the middle of the curtain a hole emerged and you poured yourself through it. You crouched on the gate, snarling at your shadow. Someone focused the lens and the black house was still there, upside down. You accelerated through a circle of pillars in the dark, you’re just reckless, sharpened to a fine point. How can you explain your body to the air?

*******




As soon as you tried to see you found a crisis. People lounged on deck chairs overlooking the chasm. Thick yellow sun glinted on the tips of their eyelids, the whole platform was drowning in beer and you were perpetually stuck in a creaking elevator. For a moment you forgot yourself and touched the thing you wanted. It was so soft and warm, it felt like forever.

*******




I looked down into the crater. I slid down the sand, all the way down until I was inside, next to the lady with the long grey hair. We walked along the spit, and there were seals everywhere. The sand was so white. I wanted to swallow it whole.

*******




There’s a bright blue sky full of light. Leaves glitter in the wind like they do. You lie in bed dreaming of mountains, radiance, shops closed for the night. You like to feel stillness while you think about moving. You have a sequence of thoughts: a ripe orange on a bed of brown velvet, a hand in a round hedge, a path to a castle at dusk. You are hopeless in the face of your memories.

*******




In another lifetime you are at the window of a wooden hut. Jars of wires and pearls are preserved in honey on every surface. The headlights of a pick-up truck dazzle you through the forest. You’re squinting at the purple sky - at shapes in the stars surrounded by burning light. It’s a fugitive species racing into the fire. You snap like elastic at the mere thought of it.

*******




As she walked through the tall grass she whispered into a blue silk cloth. Red light swam through the branches directly into her eyes. She was remembering the dream about the old house on the hill, and the hole she slipped into. The dust, the lace, the cartoon creature in the stone grotto, and the girl painted on the wall. She felt a lump underfoot. She could hear you singing.

*******

 


The men with laptops cackled as the gondola careened thorugh the woods. It ejected them at a fertile roadside where three gigantic deer stood in view, spindly and skittish. Your hand was diseased and one of the men bit the poison out of it. You felt manic and restless but a sleek gelatinous seed pod sprouted before you. You were drunk on pain. It was a long walk home through the empty train station, past sunlit mattresses, into the arms of the smiling photographer.

*******




The gold building with the glass roof is awash in yellow light. Standing alone in the mail room you hear the word ‘avarice’ as you pour glue onto a decorative plate. Flyers are blowing away, the hats on the heads of the guards stay right where they are, you want to run as fast as you can into the dusk. You are performing the work of nature.

*******




A slivver of cool air drifts over his hands and he pictures a figure in a silver shroud under a dark tree. It turns away and strides towards a fountain, piercing a long finger through a stream of water. It’s skin is translucent and glows like ice. He is crystalised by it, and his fingers rest on the keyboard like fallen pylons. Next door a party begins, and on the other side of the planet alarm clocks sound in an endless cacophony.

*******




As you raise your hands to the sky readying them for the release, a gleaming window pane catches your eye, and the pastel interior of a sunlit lobby oozes into view. It’s not quite the present, but its something better, and you take a heat soaked step into a ferocious placidity that knows no bounds.

*******




Straining hard through the maelstrom of hail buffetting your viscous face, you’re reminded of a bright gold button you once had the pleasure of pressing in an elevator in Copenhagen, and you whirl back around towards the stone bridge, swilling the air as though it were whisky and watching the turgid water agitate downstream. 

*******




Laughing wildly at the cascade of mountains before her, a trickle of water sloped over her cheek and she flipped the joker from the deck of cards, feeling all the devices of her life flank around a gathering sensation of solitude.

*******




As you gaze at a book about camembert on a faux wooden shelf, a figure in red walks by with three tomatoes in a plastic bag, and a dusty head emerges from a manhole to answer a phone. It’s a high octane morning, tapestries seem to be draped everywhere, and you are ready for a haptic jaunt in a glorified street scape that will predictably evade you.

*******




The creased man is still talking to him about wheels, but all he can see is the woman in the yellow dress holding the phone. She’s speaking quietly into the phone on the terracotta steps. As she saunters towards them, she dips her head to light the tip of a cigarette, and passes them by. Overhead the sun burns like a broken yolk, and silver palms murmur behind a string of telephones lines.


*******




As she searches she realises that sometimes she doesn’t know any words at all. The words or parts are just a spectra of vibrations. Even when she thinks about flat pack furniture and other simple systems, she cannot absorb any precision at all into her mind. Yesterday she was contemplating something imperceptible, and she momentarily ceased existing altogether.

*******




You are wrapped in the sanctuary of an open plan kitchen, admiring a trail of ants which marches beside your matte-like hand. A smattering of beige tiling graces the wall before you, and you notice a fabergé egg on the window sill next to a watercolour of a dark pond. As you scan the room, you recall a dream you had in which you were retrieving large glass orbs from deep underwater chasms with athletic dexterity. Your present is temporarily rewarded with a fantastical quality, which casually subsides into the ethereal sensation of a curling snake of ants on the surface of your skin.

*******




Under a glassy emerald sky a patter of voices emerged. A wave broke on an inky crag and a sudden surge of horror bolted through your body. Over the headland an orange quilt was laid out on a patch of smooth pebbles while a spoon slipped silently beneath the surface of a bowl of soup. Some years later, on this very spot, a boy dropped his magnifying glass into a jumble of silver bracken, and it was never seen again by human eyes.

*******




Almost all day she’s been watching particles in the white room. It’s a bright chamber but all of the dust is starting to seep in. Her socks are sliding around in her silt filled shoes and a pale film of light flows over the television shell. Mercilessly, through the air filter in the tiled bathroom, the ambient sound of a distant lawn mower wafts inside, obscured by the foliage of a douglas fir.

*******




Only when he leans effortlessly against the raw concrete slab and there is nothing but grey air and concrete around him, and there is only muffled chanting on the radio, and there is just an idea of a ripple of air but no movement at all, only then does he really feel his body like a machine at rest, silhouetted against all the jagged parts, and all of the shining equipment poised for noise.

*******




As though operating on a lower, less perceptible frequency, she found herself in the night air peering at the encroaching moss next to the front steps. A magnolia unfurled in subaqueous flight and the man with the wispy beard trawled the freqiencies for a familiar sound. Inside he wondered about land and measurements, outside a magpie pivoted on a branch, two onyx eyes striking out for sparks.

*******




In a sea of teal, she lies with her soft cheek against the cool kitchen tiles. Next door in the room full of gold tassels, round figures slow dance in unison until a voice comes over the loud speaker. There’s a gas station across the road. A string of lights dangle from a metal railing and a man wrapped in flannelette sheets chuckles to himself, thinking ‘I’ve been living for thousands of days but I still don't know how to get out of bed’.

*******




When he pressed down on the soil around his new fern all of the voices in his head receded and he felt a giddy sense of equilibrium. Underneath him, a deep and abrasive chortle echoed through a subterranean train platform while a young woman in a checkered shirt peered cautiously downwards, wondering how she really felt about her new shoes.

*******




It’s night, and the woman in the beige robe appears statuesque. She’s on the stone paving in front of the swimming pool, basking in the pale glow shimmering across her slippers. She considers all of the phone calls she needs to make, that have ever been made in fact, but she knows her body is now rigorously glued to this perpetual instant. Palm fronds are fanning regally towards her, and invigorated by the precipice, she feels compelled to raise her arms and sway slowly back and forth.

*******




Just as he was asked to define his ideal work environment, a blue winged warbler appeared outside the window accompanied by a slight spectral flair through a clump of burgundy heather, and he thought to himself ‘how good’.

*******




Under the overpass you peel a mandarin and listen to the thick roar of circling traffic. A shadow flickers over the discarded mirror on the median strip and a faint scent of molasses wafts through the air. You catch sight of a woman in her car, she runs her sharp red nails through her hair and merges into a stream of metal. It occurs to you that the clue might be towards the water, and you set about finding signs in the long grass around you.

*******




You are standing on a golf course watching a white gull soar above a tuscan pagoda. A berserk tangle of bamboo gestures overhead as you blink nonchalantly in the direction of a distant sand hill. The holler of an unseen man drifts up the fairway as the gull squawks and plunges below the pines. And with a blissfully contorted smile you turn back towards the clubhouse, not quite comprehending the echo of majesty you’re feeling.

*******




His mop of flat, feeble hair made you shiver with disgust. The arrogant tapping of his pallid fingers upon the desk left us all feeling depleted. The sun was high, air conditioners thrummed around the crisp interior and you thought to yourself, I must purchase something as soon as possible.

*******




I placed my fingers upon my eyelids and felt pure warmth pass through. I knew I needed to face the sun and absorb as much heat as I could. Of course this heat had passed through many swirling currents before me. While I sat there on the stone bench next to the old house, I recalled a box of ribbons I’d seen on the carpet at Lauren’s house. There were no people or dogs anywhere in sight, but there were floss pink roses next to me, perfectly still.

*******




Watch the man walk across the road towards his car. He steps across the road towards his car with a bag full of shirts. He feels a flutter in his heart at the thought of a clean, crisp shirt and a nice cool drink. As he grips the bag of clean shirts he strides across the road. He simply glides across the road and ducks into his car, and everything feels fluid again.

*******




A dream appears on the horizon in an apricot haze. A wild-eyed man with legs covered in oil careens up a bike path in a motorised chair. A woman in a lilac visor feeds a child on a triangle of grass. And just there, through the sunlit window beyond the empty lot, there’s a peacock feather tucked into the center of a
rolled up poster. 


*******




For a brief but electrifying moment, as he lies listening to the song he loved as a teenager, he feels with every fibre in his being that somewhere in this world, there is a perfect place that encapsulates and balances all of the nuanced and effervescent experiences that have shaped his technicolour existence.

*******



In a deep amber glow she sits on the velour couch against the wooden wall. Her pink shirt settles in nicely against the brown panelling. As she gazes at the television, she wonders whether she’ll ever completely admit to herself or to others just how famous she thinks she should be.

*******



I push up my sleeve as I pick up the phone to call the physician and take a swill of water. A smooth swill of water as I pick up the phone to call the physician. I lean back in my chair and listen to his voice. I rest my elbow on the ergonomic chair as I chuckle knowingly. My elbow just rests effortlessly on the chair and I chuckle knowingly as I listen to his voice.

*******



When she remembered the green jumper she felt a gasping memory breach the surface of her mind. Someone on a vague street corner at dusk noticed a blue glow from a sewer grate. A bird flew over a silent fruit stand, this bird might have flown over you when you were on holiday. Maybe you wanted to talk to someone on your holiday, but instead you meandered in an ephemeral unknown, which is very vivid and crystallised in your mind.

*******



Thats how I feel when I’m happy. I dance and speak and look. And listen to how I speak. I’m excited to put things on my table. I always try to see myself as being that person. Sometimes I glimpse myself there, being that way.


*******



I bite my lip as I stand at the crossing and the sound of an electric guitar solo floats out of a nearby furniture store. I wonder to myself for perhaps the second time whether heat still controls what we see through windows. A stirring in the bush causes a light to flash below me, and I grasp the strap of my bag, watching lines of eyes disappear down the slick voltaic roadway.

*******



Of-course it wasn’t easy when you returned to work. It was as if someone had carefully placed four or five cinder blocks onto your back and clipped clothes pegs to your fingers. Such  impractical extensions of yourself made it hard to make toast in the staff kitchen, and glance casually at your colleagues who were usually in all directions. But outside a spindly tree branch oscillated enthusiastically in the wind, and two red cars coasted by. 

*******



Yes that is you standing and walking there. Pausing to consider a portrait in a gallery, walking towards a sensual yet severe portrait in a pristine and empty gallery and pausing to consider it. I barely notice you standing there, standing and walking and pausing just there.

*******


Copyright © 2020 Mia Middleton. All Rights Reserved.