Across the bay, even long after the sun had gone down, the cries of the boat traders would punctuate the air. Often, at his desk, he’d be unaware of their presence, but occasionally they would stir into his consciousness, and then, for some reason, discomfort him. He had lost all chance of love, had settled into his later years as a sunken wreck settles into the mud and sand of the seabed. The cries reminded him of the calls of birds, marking their territory. Watermelons, fish — fresh or grilled — mangoes, coconut milk. Commerce has its own melancholy, from the numb sleekness of corporate lawyers and the dreary plutocrats of the financial quarter, to the cries of the vendors floating across the polluted waters, the sound at once mechanical and keening, with a faint note, if you listened carefully, of the desperation that waits at the end of all money — the spectre of falling, at last, into the hands of human beings | She dreamed she had jumped from a plane. Her parachute, a great plosive and sudden flower, had opened with a fierce buck above the ocean. For hours, she had drifted through the sky, over a seascape of coral atolls, with their turquoise and subtle azure rings, like exquisite lichens colonising a softly respiring stone, glittering in the bright tropical air: she hardly seemed to be descending at all, but just gliding effortlessly, passively, far above the planet’s surface, visibly curving. Later, she found herself entangled, dangling from the canopy of her chute, high up in angular branches among tall trees. Island. The straps of her harness and the ropes creaked, she struggled like a crane fly with broken limbs, breaking further. This was not the land she had seen, when a child, in her parents’ grandiose, antique atlas, a representation delicately drawn and, as if to emphasise the fairy-tale status of the information contained within, framed by elaborate gilt. A thought is endless, she had written in her journal. It has no sides, no permanent dimensions. A single thought can germinate and reproduce and cover the Earth, like a benevolent weed, curiously inane, or spread like water fed from an unseen spring, and keep on flowing, deepening, changing. Was it true? A journey had waited for her every day, like a mythical animal, four-legged, horned, hoofed, with glowing eyes the colour of ripened satsumas, folded wings of dusky brown, at the foot of her bed. Ever since her early teens, an existential unease — often very beautiful — had possessed her. Her happiness was somehow rich with unhappiness: too, too fragile, life had no way of saving itself, no place it might rest, no sanctuary. All was exposed, perfectly itself, even the secret linings, the buried treasures: how could the sun not be a sun? When she woke from a long sleep, she found a girl beside her in the whorl of sheets, a different maze, warm and palpable, yet, with her eyes closed, racing towards innumerable vanishing points, the cry of bright white seabirds over desert beaches of pure black, volcanic sand, a moment, a seed, washed up, together, on a strangers’ shore.

 


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)