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M I C HAEL S M AL L, W RITER MONDAY, 7 FEBRUARY 2011

BEYOND THE GIRRAHWEEN STEPS for Helen Martineau

He had drawn his anger: Twists of barbed wire in hard, black lines. Adjacent to his jealousy: Sharks’ teeth like knife blades in a mocking, gaping maw. ‘Get out!’ he had screamed his loudest, closing with a helpless whimper. ‘Just get out of my house!’ ‘What’s happened, Blake? What’s wrong?’ ‘You are!’ he yelled. ‘You’re always in my road!’ ‘Tell me what the problem is,’ Pepper implored, one hand over her breast-bone, her mouth slightly open. ‘Y O U!’ His anger stretched the word and banged it about her ears. ‘What . . . ?’ ‘Ever since you set up your office in the front room, there’s been no bloody peace. Phones ringing, couriers knocking the bloody door down, faxes spewing all hours of the day and night. Here’s me, trying to stretch my imagination, visualise, while you . . . you drown me with data, non-stop jabber about your network of accomplices I don’t even know and . . . and all this hideous clutter and clatter of the IT revolution.’ She was stunned into silence, cast down and out. ‘If I’m ever going to get anywhere with my art, I have to delve deep into my own unconscious. Can’t you see? It may look as though I’m sitting around with a pot of


beer staring at the ceiling, but I am in fact concentrating pretty bloody hard!’ ‘Yes, I know . . .’ ‘As for you, you’re entangled in your own wired-up world as if you’re the centre of the frigging universe! Where’s our communication, for chrissake!’ He could have slashed a volcano - from its fiery red lips the terrified head of Medusa choking through smoke and twisted ropes of hair; jet black pumice spewing into a sickly green sky. Yet Pepper’s editing business was booming. ‘I’m dangerous,’ he muttered next day to Jess, a minister whose soft-spoken voice sounded like the silver that played about his hair on Sunday mornings. ‘At times I feel I’m stuck in a gulley of red-hot lava.’ ‘Come now, young feller, that’s a bit melodramatic. You’re being too hard on yourself. What you need is some time out. Well away from here. Ease the pressure of work.’ ‘Sometimes I just explode. For no apparent reason. Then I get hung over on guilt, just kicking it around.’ He had drawn his depression too. Thick, broken, horizontal lines above a sea of black cross-hatched shading. ‘Perhaps you should renounce the world for a few days. Why don’t you take my retreat in the bush? Thomas Knoll. It’s set in a secluded valley and only a couple of hours’ drive from the City. It offers balm to the soul, I guarantee you.’ ‘When you recommended that psychodrama course, I thought I’d got the monkey off my back. On the mattress. I never thought I could do it, but there was this sour-faced woman who offered to play my mother ragging me in this awful high-pitched whine: “You can do a lot better than this, Blake! You’re just not trying! I don’t know why I bother.” On and on she whined. And I really let rip: “Get away from me, you prying bitch! Stop criticising me! Just leave me alone! I’m never fucking good enough for


you, am I!” My oath, when the helper felt hot trembling at the base of my spine, he was most impressed. “That was great, Blakey, you’ve got it all out.” All that black bile. Obviously, I haven’t.’ ‘I look forward to when the two will be one again.’ Dear old Jess, always reassuring. ‘The only thing you need do is feed the animals.’ ‘Are they fire-proof?” ‘My word, you can touch the valley’s positive energy.’

For two days solid sheets of rain swept down from the green hills and blanketed the village. Unseasonable hailstones matted his hair as he chopped wood and picked from the vegie garden leaves of kale and coronets of broccoli. Ebony, the highstepping, shaggy Irish wolfhound, more grizzled than Blake, would drop her scruffy tennis ball in his gumboots and steal the chooks’ eggs from beneath their wire fence. Still he failed to hear, really hear, the beep and distant, echoing beep of the bellbird fluting from some occluded greenland. He walked along beneath the high-banked hedges of a narrow unsealed road only as far as the half a dozen stores facing the village green. Briefly, he found his imagination wandering the shires of Edwardian England on a long weekend. And then as he emerged from the general store with his supplies, stone-ground sourdough bread, cottage-made cumquat marmalade and Anzac biscuits, organic fruit and vegies, he was overtaken outside the rustic furniture shop by a man of middling years with long, thin hair straggling from a bald tonsure and longer salt and pepper beard. ‘Hey there, how’s it going? Settling in okay?’ ‘Yeah, it’s going well, thanks,’ replied Blake, relaxing under the stranger’s generous smile and eager blue eyes. ‘Trying to get used to the stillness of the place.’ ‘You wait till the service. You are coming, aren’t you?’


‘I hadn’t planned on . . . ‘ ‘I’m sure you’ll find your way. Look, you might like some tea to smoke.’ ‘Thanks all the same, but I gave up weed when uni gave me up. Just indulge in the occasional bender nowadays.’ ‘It’s free, man. And I reckon you may need it.’

Chewing his despair that second night, Blake was stirred from bed by Ebony’s insistent gruffness down in the kitchen. His head was buzzing. That tea must’ve been green, he rued, giving his scalp a rub. From the verandah he peered through the skeleton of the lemon tree. Yes, he had closed the chook shed. It was a bright clear night sparkling with an array of stars he would never witness above the city skyline. The moon loomed so large, so imposing, you could almost reach out and touch the Sea of Tranquillity or fall into one of its pale grey craters. The luminosity of this smooth, gleaming silver globe startled him; its rays lit up small clumps of cloud, tingeing their indigo edges with gold. Stillness fell on him like thunder. And then, above the calypso of frogs and insects of the night and the moaning of arthritic trees, he heard it. A stray, quivering music unravelling on the wind from the knoll. Curious as though called, he threw on some woollens, grabbed a torch from the back passage and set off on unsteady feet for the Girrawheen Steps. Then realized that the unsteadiness was all within, as if he were lilting along on an inflatable cushion. Damn that junky weed! Plaintive tones, swelling and falling, not unlike medieval plainsong but voiceless, floated down through the tunnel of gums and straggly wattle. Blake slithered up the steps of earth packed between gnarled roots, past the cut of pitch-gleaming dams, past the deer farm, until he could make out the pointy jet obelisk dedicated to the twelve who had perished in the Great Fires of Black Thursday and the sign in bold red letters, EMERGENCY COMMUNITY REFUGE, which opened out onto the


common. Where was the strange music coming from? Certainly not from the two buildings either side of the common, the general store and fire station. Then suddenly, flung high into the night sky, tracers of luminous colour, flickering rainbows falling like stardust. Can’t be a fire, he thought, for where was the smoke, the ugly crackling of branches and whoomphing of wind untamed? He followed the track and the music leading down to the old presbytery. Even the upper boughs of the ghostly trees appeared to lean toward him, enclosing him with their stark presence. Cautiously, he sought the door, but, throwing up his arm too late, he was blinded by the pulses, the plosions, the twisting cross-currents of multi-layered coloured lasers, several hues of which he had never experienced before, never known their names. Then his painter’s eye became aware and marvelled at the rarity of such colours as he’d seldom witnessed, only dreamed about: ultramarine from the very mines of Afghanistan . . . dioxozone purple . . . the Persian blue of Ming porcelain . . . Indian yellow compounded from euxanthic acid . . . breathtaking emerald green said to be poisonous . . . even more magnificent than the three rose windows at Chartres with their stained glass of ruby and azure, emerald and saffron. Stepping inside the vestibule, or what remained, merely the semi-circular stone floor, he waited for his pulsing eyes and floating brain to adjust to the burst of a relentless strobing, the force of light. The heart of the church, gutted by the Great Fires, had been transformed, totally. From a circular base rose a dome, translucent and delicate as a small-scale Borromini, to the level of the old vaulting. Above the dome, beneath a field of stippled stars, danced human figures in joyful abandon. ‘These master artist-technicians are so intuitive,’ whispered one woman in harlequin pant-suit, ‘to interpret the links between sound, colour and movement. I can’t tell the difference between technology and my own inner pictures.’ ‘Try to show some respect,’ said her partner. ‘This is a sacred festival. Time to learn


and time to receive.’ ‘Heavens be praised, just look at those holograms on top of the dome!’ ‘What an excitation this is!” Others were passing through the arches to the dome, walking, it seemed, against the aureole of colours, on a cushion of air, weightless. Some ten or so wore the Galilean deep blue robes of initiates, half a dozen the purple robes of priests, most of whom were female. Other women wore homespun knitting-nancy dresses, while the less particular men settled for blue denim and floral Asian shirts. Some appeared to be in a state of rapture, a few were a study of solemnity, most seemed breathy with excitement edged with expectation. No, this was not a paranoiac vision. Surely, a delusion of the eyes? One of the priests, crisply laundered beneath her chasuble, beckoned him with an attempt at a blissful smile and requested that he remove his gumboots. ‘Are you following the Children of the Light?’ He supposed he must be. One side of her face, he noticed, discreetly, beneath the dazzle of striations, was a dried-up, heavily wrinkled urid pink and the back of her hands still bore the gristly mauve of scar tissue. When she attempted a smile, the left side of her face hung heavy, the eye dead. ‘The Great Fires,’ she shrugged. And then added cheerfully as if in explanation, ‘Whoever is near me is near the fire.’ Unthinkingly, he sat down on a bench of stone and closed his eyes, took a deep breath and let it go, listening, listening to his emptiness, his own inner trembling, the incandescence of embers still burning. Then the entrances to the dome appeared to shift slightly, or the tone of their colours and music modified whenever someone approached. Blake sensed within himself a


loosening up to these shifts in colour and music that emanated from physical forms. As he approached the dome, the music or rather ethereal sounds that floated in from far-off subtly changed tone to a higher, almost unreachable octave, where pictures arose in his mind’s eye, pictures of his earliest dreams, dreams of swinging in a parabola through space, as if between stars, swallow-diving at such speed that he held his breath and woke up coughing, leaving him forever afraid of heights no matter how modest but curious about the secrets of the galaxy. Entering the arch in a state of bewilderment tinged with apprehension, Blake sensed his movements melding into a certain ritual. Moving into The Hallowed Space, he joined a group watching a play; no, not watching but taking an active part. In some ancient but familiar narrative. ‘The Kingdom is inside you and it is outside you.’ He found himself observing Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, who was not speaking in words but in light, graceful movement. And yet Blake could hear his words resonating inside his own head, even though the actor didn’t move his lips: ‘How do we know the way?’ Blake felt himself filled with helpless enthusiasm. And this strange lightness of being. No longer did his body feel the heaviness of yesterday, nor was the nape of his neck knotted, while the buzzing in his head had fainted away. He recalled the image that he had formed of himself in guided meditation as a communicator: his arms spread out towards an audience, as if he were seeking to encompass, the purling folds of his gown, the greyish blue sleeves flecked with gold, reminiscent of an apostle. He tasted that image of himself as a gentle man, a wise man, dare he say a man of unconditional love and compassion, but he had never truly reached out; rather, the opposite had happened: he cursed himself bitterly for subverting his own expectations. Saw Pepper looking at him in that pitying manner that so riled him when he was in one of those boozy fogs. Yet now Blake was reaching out; or, at least, by centering himself on his heart, he allowed the inner being of Thomas to enter into him. Normally an awkward gangling


mover, he followed the actions of his guide in close detail, picking up little gestures and movements that afforded him some sense of rhythm natural to himself, even occasional sequences that lent dignity. ‘Let us go also that we may die with him!’ were Thomas’ own words flowing through his consciousness. Slowly, steadily, step by step, he took hold of the disciple’s intention, until he too was firm in the conviction of Thomas – he was Thomas, striding out on the road to Bethany. In a flash, he sensed that he possessed the capacity, the fluidity, the vibrational tenor to enter into the character, the very beingness of Martha. And Mary too. In fact, all the Jews in the story, including the Pharisees. Next a glimmering, a picture that he dared not allow definition, that he as well as the thirty-odd players would all become as one, playing the role of Lazarus in his emergence from the tomb in grave-clothes. Pictures in the minds of the players at first collided then commingled. Their individual distinct colours, shades, mixtures, intensities interwove like the fibres of tapestry, so that the vault radiated with the myriad rays teased from the spectrum and a sublime music in accord with their inner yearning. Behind their glimmering eyes, they caught glimpses of the aura shining about each and every being in The Hallowed Space. Then the players began to sway with the freedom of those first winds, began to sing and to dance. The song of joy soared through The Hallowed Space, reverberating off the membrane-walls, dividing into harmonies and a vast array of rhythms that gradually softened, before all movement stilled to a gentle whisper: ‘I am risen.’ The floor was spinning. Exhausted, as if falling through a vortex of space time but possessed of sufficient willpower not to succumb, Blake thirsted to grab hold of someone, anyone, though for one split-moment he caught a picture of Pepper at their engagement party cutting the cake, her ivory teeth gleaming at the flashlights, then her face a-tremble as he berated her, stumbled at the sudden sense of loss, before his lightness of being became enveloped in the folds of blue and purple vestments and the press of warm flesh tingling almost as strongly as his own.


When gradually he came to himself, seated on a hard-backed chair, someone huskyvoiced must have been delivering a short sermon, but all Blake could dwell on was the closing image: ‘Imagine a magnificent eagle alighting on a bough. The bough cannot bear its weight and wavers. We are the bough on which the spirit can alight.’ And then, taking a signal, for the ethereal music had long fainted away, to be replaced by some quietly unobtrusive organ piece, the Children of Light, as if transfigured, filed slowly towards the steps of the altar, bowed and wove the sign of the Cross. Blake breathed in the heady aroma of incense, the scent of flowers riotous amid the candle-lit shadows and greenery, and the waxy smoke of tall, tubular candles flickering, caught the glint of ciborium, cruet and censer. A bell rang. ‘Aren’t you going up for healing?’ asked his neighbour. ‘No, no, I’m not sick.’ ‘You misunderstand. This is a healing of the spirit,’ the girl said, nodding toward the altar, where the host was being broken by the celebrant, whose familiar salt-andpepper beard and long hair was now swept back in a pony-tail. A second priest, a spitting image of his old mentor, Ross, was making the sign of the cross over the chalice. ‘Your ministering priest will pass on a few words for you to reflect upon over the next thirty days. Maybe the rest of your life.’ Blake fell in behind, awkwardly self-conscious, unsure of how to cross himself properly. Having knelt in prayer, the communicants sat back on chairs, the priests bringing the sacraments on chased silver plate and anointing the communicants on the forehead. He too bowed his head and closed his eyes, more in anxiety of being caught out than to meditate on the Holy Spirit. Waiting in turn, rising, every communicant proceeded slowly and silently with bowed


head to the dais to stand before one of the six priests in purple. The priest with the strawberry scar discerned the newcomer’s nervousness. It crossed her mind that he might be difficult or become confused by the rhythms or purpose of the healing service. How much faith did he have? Was his heart open to receive the spirit? As she closed her eyes and gently laid both hands on the crown of his head, she whispered, ‘It’s okay, everything is going to be all right. I am here.’ Once he had stopped fidgeting, she sensed a light current of energy pass through her hands. She stilled herself to garner the pictures thrown by this newcomer’s aura and gave some moments to contemplation. ‘The image I hold,’ she continued softly, ‘is of you walking inside a church, without much direction, except to run your fingers along the cool grey stone and marvel at the beautiful works of art, the frescoes and statues of suffering saints. Yet it seems as though you pay scant respect to the altar. Your church is deserted but for yourself. ‘In your search for spirit, it is admirable to be comfortable in a state of aloneness and to appreciate the beauty of man’s creation, but it is time to stand up and seek the spirit in other people too. But make no friendship with an angry man, for the angry man is not reconciled within himself. ‘So shall it be.’ Wavery, like deep turbulence beneath tremulous waters, Blake opened his eyes, aware of a fragility distinctly his own that he might cup in his hands as a piece of multi-faceted glass that he himself had blown. ‘And now let us stand and sing ‘O love that knoweth no fear.’ At the end of the service, a somewhat chastened Blake approached but warily the disfigured priest. ‘Surprise, surprise,’ he blathered. ‘Receiving a blessing from you,’ before realizing his lack of tact.


‘Surprise, surprise, God is a surprise.’ ‘I see,’ replied Blake, who didn’t. ‘I love the idea that our God is full of surprises, who continually nudges us towards fresh pathways. Before the Great Fires I served as a Dominican Religious teaching young children. That was the first line of a song I used to sing to them.’ ‘I’ve never been able to sing,’ he said, as if in apology, looking down at his feet. ‘Perhaps the odd soul ballad with a fake American accent.’ She gave an odd chortle by means of a slightly lop-sided jaw. ‘Sometimes the band music here is childishly simple and silly. We become like little children having fun. It’s one means of opening up the heart centre and bypassing the head.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘For several years I visited a young woman who was slowly dying of motor neurone disease. Melanie was fearful and angry about her passing before she had even set out on her life’s mission. After I was burnt in the Great Fires, our meetings were a painful experience for both of us. She had great difficulty in accepting her helplessness, merely waiting for death, while I could barely cope with my ugliness, so resentful and hurt was I. Why was I being disfigured for doing God’s work? One day, I’ll always remember this, Melanie asked to touch my scars. At first I recoiled, but she would persist, pleading meekly. I tried desperately not to flinch. Lord a-mercy, at her gentle touch I sensed a faint energy passing between us, a kind of love. During those last days, when she was unable to utter a word, all I could do was hold her hand and be still with her.’ ‘That sounds very noble and selfless. So why leave the Church?’ ‘My soul was touched. I realized that I had to become a spiritual healer, for it is the constant walking with Christ that empowers us to heal in his name. But I couldn’t do such vital work in an orthodox church with all its strict regulations, hierarchies and sexist prejudices. Melanie’s healing was letting go of the fear that finally freed her spirit. So too I let go my fear of leaving the orthodox faith to become a spiritual


healer for the Mystic Christ.’ ‘Good on you! Yes, my journey has long been clear to me. Thank you for the confidences.’ ‘Will you go where the spirit leads?’ ‘I don’t quite under-’ ‘You must.’

When he did finally wake up, confused but thankfully stretched out on the kitchen floor back up against Ebony’s lethargy, he could still catch the vestigial remains of that haunting pattern of sound, all those transitions and refractions, but inside his own head. In panicky desperation he craved to listen to those metaphysical cues again, capture them for his own heart’s salvation. Was there anything in his CD collection that even came close to the numinous? ‘The Planet Suite’ was too familiar by far, no doubt even trite after last night’s cosmic harmonies. What about Arvo Part? Indeed, the second track, ‘Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten’, did evoke something of cosmic wonder in its crystal purity of single notes and the beseeching strains of high-pitched violins rolling inward again and again and again like plangent wavelets, almost to an excruciating degree, before the ever-drawn-out smooth, reedy surge of the finale snapped the spell of suspended awe, ending any similarity utterly. Savouring a second short black, he was jolted out of his reverie by a rap on the door and barks and bounce from Ebony. ‘How are you feeling, young feller?’ ‘Hi, Jess. Thought I recognised you beneath that purple mantle, you old fox.’ ‘Well?’ ‘I don’t rightly know. Initially, with that other-worldly music I was different, certainly different . . . as if I was . . . shining out of myself. The whole experience was . . . well,’


an awkward laugh half-stifled was emitted with a shake of the head, ‘out of this world.’ ‘Do you feel a little more at peace? That’s the important thing right now.’ ‘I doubt it. For starters, I couldn’t decide if I’d got mixed up in some pagan rite or the Catholic Eucharist. There were other things that disturbed me. For instance, I’d read somewhere: “Never trust a guru who smokes”.’ ‘Oh, you mean Jake, the celebrant.’ ‘Balding guy who offered me some weed.’ ‘That’d be right,’ Jess chuckled, as he often did, those old savant eyes twinkling unless he was dreaming of his beloved Iona. ‘Yes, he’s incorrigible.’ ‘It seems such a flagrant contradiction to accept without question a minister who is dependent on abusive substances.’ ‘Yes I know. But it’s important to focus on the message, not the messenger. Jake‘s view is that as long as he’s open to the flow of spirit, then he’s free to express the needs of his soul.’ ‘But it’s so hypocritical. What’s more, I can’t abide the notion that a select group of people believe they are God’s chosen elite and are the solitary keepers of the Truth, whatever that is. Invariably, it leads to a self-righteous smugness.’ ‘Once you are reconciled within, you forgive your own faults and flaws as well as the peccadilloes of others. None of us is a saint. Remember, anger and frustration issue from a heart divided.’ ‘Jess, I cannot sacrifice myself to a cause. The tension that I feel inside me provides the inspiration for my art. On canvas is where I endeavour to reconcile my inner contradictions. I’m nothing if I can’t express myself in art. Yes, I know you think I’m far too egotistical, but I have been given a talent that feeds on my inner journey.’


‘The ego is essential; of course, it is. But how you harness its energy determines whether your work moves the soul of others. You cannot put new wine into old wineskins.’ ‘Look, I’m sorry, Jess. I do appreciate your help, really I do. To be candid, I don’t believe in ever finding peace on earth.’ The elder clasped Blake’s forearm and squeezed gently. ‘My hope for you is that one day your eyes may be opened so that you see, truly see, beyond the material world.’

Pepper had given him six months to make up his mind about marriage. Indeed, there were evenings and weekends when he had missed her easy-going tolerance, but those days had receded forever. Still, he could scarcely bring himself to think without wincing with shame of that morning when he had suddenly erupted. Seldom was he sleeping soundly nowadays, but would get up in the cold dark and sketch his emptiness or envy or isolation in stabbing abstract thrusts, spontaneously, pressing his wide-awake rational mind from the process. All this nervous energy was grist to the artist’s driving inspiration. After Pepper and her burly-shouldered, surly-looking companion in blue dungarees and Blundstone boots had brought round a trailer to collect her sofa, TV, wardrobe, dining table and cardboard boxes of books, the house looked utterly deserted, an empty shell, eerily peaceful. His own furniture, the Queen-size bed, two wardrobes, dressing-table and bathroom cabinets, was built-in from way back. Pepper had always been amazed at how an artist could live in such a humdrum environment, even dismissed beautiful objects unless housed in a gallery or museum or country house. Why did he feel unworthy of owning any such personal treasures? Why was he trying to recreate the sense of bleakness that he saw all about him? It was fruitless to try to understand and in spite of her patience and gentle overtures, Blake was still doggedly determined to cling to his old ways. Regrettably, it was time to pull the plug; her new item was at least a practical asset. Though finally set free, there still arose black spots when Blake doubted his very way of life as well as the quality and purpose of his art. Soon he would have to make tracks for Ikea, but who would interpret the plan for assembling the fiddly bits and


pieces? Nonetheless, he managed to stick to his ritual, a temporal ritual, of course an early start to blank out his fears and doubts by escaping to his sketch book. Until a sense of boredom would creep in, a suspicion that he was driving himself up a blind alley, trapped by what was becoming a series of monotonous savage inscapes, escapes, egoscapes, esoteroscapes. On another surge of energy, he broke away from his easel to work on large canvasses spread on old newspapers out on the patio. For several years he had envied the allover energized performance of smoking Jackson Pollock. I may be derivative, he thought, but I feel the urge to throw the whole of my body into the act of creation. Using tubes of red and black, he started tentatively to flick clumps of goo with a spatula into the four quadrants, then walking around the canvas perimeter and pouring on spurts of black bile and red shoots of flame, all the while working himself into some kind of tribal rain-dance, losing himself with a paddle-stick dipped in the pots for scraping waves, then ripping across the bloodied canvas with long single strokes followed by prison bars, curlicues like rams’ horns and spaghetti spirals, flame trees, cedillas and hooks that might have dropped from his very brow. Soon there was no field or ground in which to hide. ‘What the fuck’s that, mate? A pig’s breakfast?’ Pepper’s handbag had called round for the rest of her gear. ‘Oh, the whatsit, err the coffee table’s out on the front verandah,’ he muttered. ‘Help yourself.’ With that, Blake sloshed paint all over the surface, gouged deep gashes with his Stanley knife and plastered old photos of Pepper into the mirey mess that he could attack later. Standing back, bespattered beyond his apron, he slowly came to realize, begrudgingly, that instead of Pollock’s aesthetically pleasing patterns of fine swirls of ‘Lavender Mist’ inferred from some beautiful space of subtle energies, his own slap and trickle had concocted an act of butchery straight out of the Spanish civil war. Perhaps Klee was right: ‘The more abstract the world becomes, the more fearful becomes art.’ Or was it the other way about? Slumped down, exhausted, he fell into a doze on an unstained patch of weed in the


early summer sunshine.

When he opened his eyes, the first thing Blake noticed was the woolly, ribbed, pale underside of loquat leaves when previously he’d only admired the Arnolfini green of the glossy upper sides. The long, slender leaves curved like a prow to the point, the new growth sprouting skirts of pastel green, some leaves filleted by insects, a few unusually squat. With his artist’s eye he followed the shapes between the leaves offered by negative spacing, mainly irregular rhomboids and saw-tooths, the occasional triangle. But the proliferation of foliage was so tangled, shapes could not easily be reduced or simplified to abstraction. Even the branches ranged through diverse textures and shades of grey, from a smooth deathly grey to the casing of charcoal black of a dead bole or burnt orange for a scab with an opal of light breaking through. ‘Uh,’ he sighed with a sniff of recognition, when his narrowly focused eyes did finally pick out the clusters of abundant oval fruit, verdigris skins turning to varied shades of maturing yellow - gamboge, orpiment, mango - and orange - pine tar resin, safflower, turmeric, and rubia tinctorium called madder. And wondered if he might ever capture for himself those precious colours.

Michael Small June, 1995 published Canberra Science Fiction Newsletter, June, 1996 revised October 3 – November 12, 2010 P O S T E D B Y MICH A EL A T 02:54 EMAIL THISBLOGTHIS!SHARE TO TWITTERSHARE TO FACEBOOK

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SNUFFLING FOR BLACK GOLD

THE SCORN OF BECKY PILBEAM

THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR

WHERE THERE’S A WILL

A LEGEND LAUNDERED

BRIEFED FOR BERLIN

ROAD TO KAROL BAGH

CYCLONE CORAL

A BITTER SPACE

BEYOND THE GIRRAHWEEN STEPS

THE BOUNCING STONES

PUSKAS

HER MASTER’S VOICE


M’CRACKEN’S GHOST

DUST IN YOUR EYES

RAKING THE ASHES

VEGETABLE LOVE

HARVEST–TIME IN PROVENCE

I DON’T TELL STORIES

IMMEMORIAL RUN

THE ODD FLUTTER

HOMEWARD BOUND

SOVRAN KING

L’OSSESSIONE

THE MODEL UNVEILED

RESTING PLACE

CAT’S PAW

HER NATURAL LIFE

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ALICE SAFARI

BETWEEN TWO STOOLS

ABOUT ME

MI C HA EL V IEW M Y CO M P LETE P ROF ILE


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