Posted by: rajagainstthemachine | August 11, 2010

Black Magellanic Cloud

The Walk to Finsbury Circus was bitterly cold. Friday night in London, a cutting wind, accompanied by the ever-present London drizzle. Although the sharp pain in my chest had started to die down, I still gasped for breath twice or thrice a minute.

Grey-brown ice, frozen over the footpath, cracked under my anxious footsteps, giving forth a milky liquid oozing out on to the asphalt. Black-brown silhouettes of pedestrians swept past me, heavily wrapped in overcoats and scarves, clutching at umbrellas bent back by the wind into contorted positions. I caught occasional glimpses of downcast faces in shallow pools of lamplight, carrying the burden of weather and worry.

Six o’clock. The burnt out ends of smoky days.

I was the last in to the clinic. The blue carpet was heavy with damp, giving off a musky smell. Seventies era wallpaper cracked in places, peeling itself back from the double brick wall.

The doctor gave me a cursory examination, sporting a wry doctor’s grin – I was the last hypochondriac to see for this week.  He reassured me that I was a healthy young man, who should not have a care in the World other than perhaps being “midly asthmatic”. A prescription for a Ventalin inhaler would do the trick, he said, smirking.

Arrogance can breed a certain cynicism in general practitioners; perhaps it comes with the mediocrity of their urbane surroundings. In any case, it manifests itself in sarcastic smiles – judging, self-assuming Chesire grins, etched in my mind long after my other memories of their bearers had faded. 

I stepped back out into the Winter evening. Pulling my coat collars around my throat, I turned headlong into the darkness.  It enveloped me.

Half-opening my eyes, the Southern Pointers came into view – Alpha and Beta Centauri. They captured my attention, rolling my pupils further into the Sky:  Acrux, Mimosa, Gacrux, Crucis and the other, unnamed.  I looked deep into the darkness of the nebula separating the Cross from its neighbouring constellations.  It was a black magellanic cloud. 

In the end, it would just be me.

I let myself star gaze until the night sky was washed away by the amber morning glow. The earth around me was red, parched, cracked, dry. I let it crumble through my fingers.  Looking up, I started to walk, drawn in a direction – magnetised. Everything around me was burning, scarlet.

The landscape shifted around me. And then the Rock rose up, momently, from the horizon. I floated towards it; arriving at its feet, it stared down upon me. It was magnificent, but forboding – inviting you into its secret places – shelters, watering holes, chasms and inner sanctums. 

This was an ageless, timeless place. A solitary place.

Drawn to it, I pressed my palm against the red ochre. Its grains were like embers, smouldering. Alive! It was whispering to me, fortelling of other places. Of other times to come.

“Imagine one day, a great wind chases the ghosts of clouds from the sky. Light slants on the river to lift a brutal shimmering spirit of water. And just above the shadowed green currents where the white gnats are furiously circling, a smell is rising that catches in you like sorrow. In the fields, the deer are small, not even their tails are twitching. Dense heat palms the small of your back. No draft from the river cools you. In this moment, you stand alone. The day holds the promise of winter kill, huckleberries black and round in the mountains, berries so ripe if the wind stirred you would smell the tar of their scent. In the low fields bears swat the chokecherries from their branches. In this still hour, the earth is offering blessings.” (1)

In this still hour – the earth is offering us blessings.



(1) Deborah Magpie Ealing, “What We See”.


  1. All i can say is WOW…and yes she is showering endless blessings – remember that…

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