By Philip Gull
An Expanded Vignette from Caz’s Writing Workshop
(A monologue written for a bearded man in his 50s with wild eyes and a turban, clutching an automatic rifle across his body and staring directly at the camera, sitting on the bottom slats of a bunk bed placed on a beach, a few feet from the approaching tide)
… sat old venerable Canute at the saline lip of the waves. And had he lived in an age which believed not in exclusivity but in believing belief itself, perhaps he could have brought the sea into his peripheral voice and pitted it against the Almighty in the great old dialectic every believer posits, if only to leave themselves of the agony of their own thoughts. Thalatta, thalatta! and wine-dark was his Kalashnikov. And although a few weeks prior God had created a firmament in the midst of the waters, to separate the waters below from the waters above, neither the sky or the sea spoke. But the mud of froth and fish and waterfowl spoke and pulsed.
The mud and soil and salt. Boundaries alike. He remembered Assyria, on some burnished morn when the bright red river sun rose steaming out of the deep river licorice. And dust, dust, all his encounters, and dust, dust were his memories of them. He remembered that in certain lights, it was perhaps not a trick of his eye, or a wishful hardening of psyche, that the sweat in the air, and on his skin, made the glint of a bayonet, flecked and freckled with dust, and the glint of an arm sodden with terror and the desperate jerking motions of combat, combat for no one but everyone against, the same. But no one came to those who left, and the metal of limbs, sinewed by fear, the metal that took limbs and the metal that replaced limbs, the indelible mark of iron for iron, was not the metal written.
Ezekiel’s metal was not like this. This, this metal which did not point upwards, ascendant, a triumphant standard or flag, which did not point down, a sheathed sword, the sceptre and tamed weapons of lineage. This metal pointed horizontal, spirit-level, and all that fled fled not up or down, but backwards, shrinkingly, in agony and then in unfeeling.
All this he remembered, and the idiot call of the circling gull above he envied. And the wine-dark Kalashnikov he gripped, familiar and hard as a cramped muscle, was worn by salt and clogged with the dark, dark Ethiopian mud, and it did not sputter or spasm but simply lay still, like a muscle to be consumed. And the camera, delicate, intricate, able to make things registered and seen and comprehensible, mocked him. For he could do nothing against functioning things, things that were not wine-dark by age and dark rusted liquids, and their very fragility was hateful to him. And the mud of froth and fish and waterfowl spoke and pulsed.