Thursday, 2 January 2014

Fifteen Matryoshkas

It is 2:30 am. You have woken and are ever more awake. It is a long time to morning. The crests and troughs of potential sleep-time appear as a set of dolls, one inside the other.  These are the matryoshkas of the night. The text is followed by a few brief notes on process, the notes to myself as much as to any notional reader.


Night empties out its pockets. Nothing there except more night and more pockets. Night is a matryioshka, think the pockets as they empty.

I can't be merely a receptacle for ever smaller simulacra, says the matryioshka to its simulacrum. Nor can I, it replies.

This is the night, say some. We are within it. Our minds understand night from within as one matryioshka understands another.

If we keep talking, say the matryioshkas, night will end and light will bathe us like a nurse bringing relief. There will be flowers and rain.

Bring rain and flowers. Bring rain-flowers, pray the matryioshkas. Let there be just enough light to nourish the flowers. Let it rain flowers.

Our mouths are the mouths of matryioshkas, says the rain. Anything can grow there if you wait long enough but now it is night. You must wait.

Sometimes I dream of night rain, says one of the matryioshkas. I think I hear it falling on the grass. This is what the books say. I hear them.

The dreams of the matryioshkas are recorded in books that understand night and its bibliography. They record both flowers and rain.

Let night be over, we hear a tiny matryioshka cry inside another matryioshka. Open the book. Let it rain. Let something grow. May it be flowers.

We understand these four terms, say the books: matryioshka, night, rain, flower. We have deep pockets where it is always dark. We empty them.

I will not accommodate the romance of matryioshkas, declares night. I am not a romantic object. I know rain. I know flowers. Not like these.

Every night comes to an end, says one matryioshka. Show me, says another. Not yet, says the first. Not yet, says yet another.

Night, night, night, night, the matryioshkas repeat. Our pockets are empty. When will they be filled? Not yet, not yet, goes the answer.

Inside the matryioshka a dark space accommodating a matryioshka waiting to be born. The lullaby of matryioshkas is waiting to be written.

Night remains what it is. The night inside night remains what it is. Then morning climbs out, or is presumed to climb out, so it's believed.


Variations with fixed elements are fascinating. You can be going around in circles yet moving forward at the same time. You know you are improvising and steering clear of rocks such as banality, sentimentality and the over easy.  Nor do you want to be landed with a set of arid propositions or showy paradoxes. You keep hoping each matryoshka moves you closer to the core of something like a true condition, or that, at least, it offers a proper dynamic to get you through something that feels like a worthwhile journey. 

Ask no questions of it: move forward with the same sceptical trust as you always do when writing, the critical mind in a light trance.

All writing is snark hunting. All snarks are boojums. Boojums are what we get and boojums are better than no boojums. Inside every snark a new boojum.  Two for the price of one. It's a bargain.

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