Kicking off the launch of our brand new *Writing Wednesdays* is guest-author Peregrin Jones with a wonderful conceptual piece called The Desert. I've been an admirer of Peregrin's writing for a while; in particular for his strong use of imagery and poetic style. Welcome to the blog, Peregrin!
It’s common phrase that a picture is worth a thousand words, but as an idol of mine once said: ‘[As a writer] that’s a challenge I’m willing to take.’ It seems the written word is somehow falling behind as a medium of expression these days. Where other art forms are seemingly revelling in the possibilities of the infinitely communicative modern era; words seem a little lost and un-driven, still thought of as a little stuffy and old fashioned, fit only to carry facts and classical fiction. The problem is words are a hungry art, they devour that most precious of substances: time, and they do so unapologetically. They demand focus and attention and a continual input of imagination. A good book is one you cannot put down, but modern life is a constant stream of other things that need to be done and therein good writing defeats itself. Thereupon I lay my offer, words muzzled by a time-frame. Escape within a tea break. A landscape painted in diction, using only the millennium proverbially promised me. I wish for you to join me on an exploration, brief but engrossing, through the endless eddies of my imagination. I wish to show you a small world, I wish to show you The Desert.
The sun does not beat, so much as blast down upon this land. Its heat both outlines, and defines, all that is here. Everything radiates it. Everything bathes in it. Everything is shaped by its endless pressing weight. It is a heat you can taste. You can smell. Every breath you take draws it in. Fills you with its remorseless essence. It's vampiric life. It's throbbing energy so far beyond your own. Every breath let go carries with it a little more of your moisture, a little more of your willpower, a little more of your soul. Each wave brings you closer to its giddy height; brings you closer to the desert. You feel sand creep down your throat.
Yet the air that feels so heavy dances before the eye. The world beyond your reach becomes a wavering dream, a shivering ocean of blurred boundaries. The red stone, the yellow sand, the blue sky. None can tell where one begins and the others end. Out there is the mirage land, where reality and fiction wash together as paint. Out there the air is made water by fire. You cannot stare into those depths too long. Each glance brings a new blindness. Each stinging blink imagines a new landscape. From the corner of your vision you can almost see the beast itself, the desert's laughing ethereal embodiment. A shapeless, immortal and uncaring being, laughing at all the 'great perseverance' of life. Here is an enemy you cannot face. It has but one great golden eye, and that is unblinking and un-meetable. In this place the horizon becomes a trap, which leads only to madness.
Your universe becomes smaller, closer, realer. Your universe becomes the heat. For you cannot be an outsider in this place, where there is only one enemy, only one companion. All who walk here are equal, all who walk here are one: United by their insignificance. They say every culture worships the sun at some time. Here there is no choice: your head is bowed for you. The cracked earth beneath your feet magnifies itself into your focus. Each zigzagging crevice becomes a chasm as you pass, basking in its importance. Each step shifts your small radius of reality onwards and each one brings new wonders. It is here that you see what your one true god has wrought for you, a land of ever-changing minute intricacy. Perhaps down there it is cool? Perhaps there are endless rivers winding through those twisting shadowing passages. Maybe this landscape devoid of all but death is but a thin veil. Overlaying an incessant scurry of miniscule movement. Down below the desert's true worshippers hide from his mighty gaze, sailing sand grain barges between crumbling crevices. Showing their devotion by reflecting his majesty in an incandescent array of half-seen glints. Perhaps they are the life of the desert themselves, silicone spirits rolling over themselves in an endless collective entity. Beating mountains to dust and devouring forests to further their own amorphous flowing art.
In the midst of this you remain. Alone, ignored and ignorant. Jolted awake by failing feet. Stumbling into twisted daydreams as your mind slowly succumbs to the suffocating pressure from above. The horizon's madness creeps closer now. The mirages lap upon your heels. With each step your universe becomes smaller still. Inch by inch. Second by second. Word by word. And there is no end, in any conception or direction. The sands stretch forever. The sky has no limit. You can feel the heat radiating from each cell of you, baking the others. But the desert remains hotter still. There is no time, for the desert is made of time itself. Grains spilling over grains, all were ground from what once was. Sure the great eye rolls above, but who would dare ask if he kept to schedule?
And in this moment that may be forever, you are also free of time and bathed in truth. Your passing may stir the sand, crack the dirt, cause little avalanches of dust to fall. But all will be swept away. The desert will not betray your tracks. It cares not where you have been, who you once were, where your hope lies. The desert simply envelops you, embraces you in all that it is. Maybe it has an end. Maybe you will find water once more; trees, grass, fruit and fowl. Such things that existed in the dream beyond the heat. Or maybe there is nothing but the desert. Somewhere before you will be the one step that is the last. An unknowable point in the endless expanse. There the desert will finally claim you for its own and you will become part of itself. Dry, bleached and baked. Watching idly as the next lost soul wanders by, leaving no trace of their passing.
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Georgie Bull is a freelance writer and published author living in Worcester, England.
Author: Georgie Bull
1. You Can Go Home Again
2. A Beautiful Dream
5. Let Me Tell You A Story
6. The Haunting Of Verno House
7. The C Word
8. A Ghost Story
9. Father's Son
10. Time (poem)
11. Poems - Unheard and Silent Musician
12. The Ultimate Dystopia - part one
13. The Ultimate Dystopia - part two
1. The Desert - Peregrin Jones
2. The Being Verse - Peregrin Jones
3. Who Will Feel The Rain Now? - Leena Batchelor
The Blue Hour by Dreena Collins
Introducing Writing Wednesdays - Become A Guest Author!
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