new this month
one time - in the late afternoon
shadows tearing holes through the landscape...
I went looking for the edge:
clay-rich subsoils cut through/as with a breadknife/
while the highway headed north....
the streets that dove up &
around the ridge shaping my home
I’d never even grasped;
until I started delivering junk mail
on a bike w/no gears...
the streets so steep they rose up & slapped you in the face
...as you stopped walking.
Uphill was the high road
- the avenue turning down & around the railroad -
and...a way out that I’d soon discover.
but, downhill/up/around & left?
that went nowhere - or when - that I’d ever really been before
until I went looking for something else....
no-one ever played on our streets:
a mess of dead ends - arising vertical...so’s you’d need
that would never be built in such fine & private places...
winding round a long clay ridge so solid that you could cut the
And it would stay cut.
(and high road) headed north, but...out back,
the streets wound round like a snake devouring itself.
No way through...
except the highway. All of six lanes - and deeply embedded -
as the ridge itself rode around to meet it.
You - couldn’t - walk out of this place: the houses arising in
as the streets met themselves, turning back - and, below
...the cars plunged through the gap like divers. To emerge: miles
as I reckoned things.
there was no way out, only around...
And...on the other side,
the same was repeated - and again - uphill....
We were not privileged. There was no traffic...and no sign....
It was like living upon a precipice
so overgrown that you could not see the edge. But it was
and...here, it was houses....
there was one still point
where the “reality stops here” sign should’ve been...
as the cutting drove on down, and the streets turned around -
but continued on:
the sign reading “private road” -
amidst old fruit trees...and pines; with their needles
and piled high....
all at odds w/the fine concrete drives surrounding.
Because...the letterbox that I stuffed
w/local papers - and catalogues - was old...
as few others in our area
...and I feel - as I once felt -
that the edge was in the hands of its last owners....
And that, above six lanes of high way -
standing well back - was an old farmhouse,
perched upon the brink of our times, and...that even here,
out back of the suburban,
there was - at least
- one remnant of an isolation w/something to offer
...and that, perhaps, I was already on the edge....
And that; the edge that I felt
was solid ground....
years later...and long gone
I found a record by John Fahey;
w/notes from a parallel life.
He talked of the Edge...
about the way that the land turns
...roads, streets & houses...they all come after.
The edge, whatever it is...comes first. And, on the edge...
there’s no perspective. Time seems to congeal
trapping the past...and shadowing the future - in folds
arising vertical...defining/or defying continuity,
or - perhaps -
enabling continuity elsewhere
...whilst the edges anchor & fix.
But...at the edge itself, there’s
“only the outside-the-edge rising on both sides,
and that’s just as confusing because if you look outside the edge,
or go outside, like you said, the outsides of the edge
- no matter which side you’re on, they merely refer back to the
It won’t stop. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
John Fahey visits
Some things seem to defy sense,
perhaps because they help ground it - but
they stick in the craw of those who grow up w/them...
whilst “existing” barely, if at all.
This is one such....
And...where the trees walk up ridges,
whilst the streets return - baffled - to rejoin themselves...
breeding the houses we have lived in: such things may be sensed,
perhaps, more easily than amidst a naked landscape...
by those who come after.
Even suburbs are split
- and configured - in this fashion.
And...it is suburbs that we truly know....