Last night I sat on the seawall and watched a woman in a purple bra,
slow black hair falling past her waist, dancing alone in a lighted window
two storeys up at midnight. She danced mostly with her arms, as if she
were climbing a rope, her body twisting behind her. There are things
I cannot turn from, and this was one, a study in muted abandon, probably
not meant for me. But hey. She was still dancing when I walked away
Like a thief. I live my life in curves, my love, and you live yours in fractals.
I hunger for form the way a martyr hopes for heaven. As if the shape
of things might fail if I don’t look on them and hold them close and write
them tenderly down. I long for the body of the world with a purity
that would shame a mystic. Sense is salvation. Men fall in love, they say,
through their eyes; women, through their ears. Which is lucky for me.
So, listen: it’s morning now and the sky’s as blue as it’ll ever get. Walk with me
around the point. Let’s see if we can piece the shapely world together again
out of its vivid geometry of chaos. Hear how the shalestones in the cliff wall
behind the beach want to teach you silence; see how the sea wants to preach
you wildness and fire. Beside the path between these two points of view, a
white moth flies from one yellow flower to the next, making up its slender
Mind. Below us, the rock shelf, a petrified map of several city blocks, is losing,
decorously and imperceptibly, its eternal argument with time. Out beyond
the whitewater, a hundred surfers, so many recumbent monks, bob their liturgy
of thanks for the first decent swell in ages, and two slick silvergulls play their
plangent voices out behind them down the break. Thirteen tankers wait out
the weekend along the horizon, and above, a small plane slopes insolently
South. The Bogey Hole looks like a Raymond Carver story waiting to happen
to three men staring down the implacable sea, and a blue cattle dog behind
them chasing a lime-green ball, and a brownhaired girl wavering at the edge
of her mismatched bikinis, her breasts escaping no one’s notice. But we turn
and leave them short of their denouement, the sun a klaxon in the catatonic
sky, a blaze in your flaxen hair. The tankers have drifted together now like a pod
Of whales, a convivial moeity of heavy industrial behemoths passing judgment
on the current account. Down on Wolfe Street, a violin walks a chromatic scale
upstairs from the basement of the redbrick terrace at the corner, and a rogue
tanker crosses the street below us at double time and a half - business that can’t
wait till Monday. But the world can wait till Tuesday, at least, to get its story straight
on us. At the docks, two cranes slowdance with midday, arms above their heads.
Poet and essayist Mark Tredinnick is the author of seven books, including The Blue Plateau, The Road South and The Little Green Grammar Book. His awards include The Newcastle Poetry Prize and the Calibre Essay Prize.
The Newcastle Region Art Gallery would like to thank The Lock Up for providing Mark with a residency for this exhibition.