Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Reminded me of a sinister Balinese shadow puppet. Or a geisha stretching
out her kimona sleeves to dance.
Photos by Candia Dixon-Stuart
A gardener gave us brief directions
and we walked to Holy Trinity as
two believers in invisible cats
and curled up comfortably on its wall
was a very tangible companion.
Could this be a descendant of ‘step-cat‘
who ruled The Kilns; dominated the dog?
This was where Jack took his first Communion:
a mouse, finally captured by a cat –
or the quarry of The Hound of Heaven?
He didn’t metamorphose from a dog
immediately and other felines
did not recognise him as kin at first.
‘Cats,’ he said, ‘often don’t like each other;
they can be Pharisees who stare you out.’
‘Men must endure their going hence,’ proclaimed
the grave which nobody was visiting.
I placed two purloined Heartsease on the stone,
under unblinking, eye-slit surveillance
and thought about grey army blanket drapes;
those nicotine-stained ceilings; single beds;
Joy’s introduction of a Siamese.
That church cat was cool. It was convinced that
its whiskers could pass through a needle’s eye.
Lying in rows, there were sheep and some goats.
Often we don’t have an inkling as to
which is which: we transform at different rates.
Could this have been the cat who comforted
souls in the charnel houses of old? Or,
could it have been an erstwhile canine?
For this creature’s inscrutability
spoke of divine ineffability.
And all the while, it did not spring away,
but purred me towards an unseen lintel.
I expected gradual disappearance;
maybe some kind of cosmic benison.
But suddenly it was gone and a smile
seemed to hover over the whole graveyard.
I still believe in invisible cats.
Welcome, we are waiting for you.
From the hill there is a new horizon.
Tsunami sirens have been muted now.
The sea, a woodcut of tranquility,
is a dragonfly blue wash for weary pilgrims,
who seek connection to all they have lost.
They post imaginary epistles
to homes that were ripped from their foundations;
drowned with mental furniture from their pasts.
Messages rolled into mental bottles
will never be unfurled on any shore.
Voices are cast to the winds… no ringback
startles a disconnected receiver.
Some feel a tidal ebb and flow; return
to Otsuchi, where pine forests renew,
to discover their own denouements.
They close their eyes and listen,
straining for a whisper in a seashell;
dialling ‘0’ for an operator.
Dry grasses’ susurration is unnerving.
They sense that someone may be tuning in;
they have faith in frequency alignment.
Alert to Mother Nature, their heart strings
are taut, plucked like an Aeolian harp,
by the vicissitudes of every breeze.
Soon there is a marked diminuendo.
This booth holds their pasts, presents and futures.
They face the ocean, feeling its deep pulse.
Waves of raw emotion excoriate,
until their souls are polished like sea glass –
as green as the garden they stumbled through,
when they happened on the gate by themselves,
passing through the arch with its chimes and urns.
If they forget Hourajimi, then who
will remember them? Is that why they come?
Bowing, they dial the unobtainable.
Welcome. We are waiting for you… and you.
Aeolian Harp photo by Simon Speed
Poem by Candia Dixon-Stuart