Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Side that Seethes

Across a thick and solemn road
Two houses stand, utterly opposed

The one side seethes with shades of green light,
The other side, in stark off-white, and grey highlights,
Stands open-mouthed and staring as if wanting to be found.

The side that seethes also cackles and chats with last season's leaves
And birds discussing this, discussing that.

The side stark and still seems bold and daring,
Exposed in its off-white skin, barely a shred of clothing...

Now I've seen everything

The side that seethes is overgrown with English-Garden clichés.
The half buried brick path winds,
The cluster of unruly, well-arranged plants
Rampage in varying stages of flouncy overgrowth.

The stark and still side has a simplistic style to it. Functional and flat, rather like an oversized appliance. The first-ever computer that filled a large room, perhaps. Obsolete and cold, even in its own time.

The side that seethes also sings and smells sweet as it hides behind a dark, faintly fermenting garden cover. Taking over, like long hair on a guy, the garden veils in deep green the solid stucco bungalow, except for one attractive bay window to be seen.

The side stark and still allows one fern and one tree. The fern is cut, as if at the neck, to keep level with the front wall. The tree is barely half a tree, a berry of some sort, various vaginal wounds of amputated limbs, recent and old, seem borne bitterly if the wounds are anything to go by. Folded and frustrated, like a quarter fan, it stands permanently half-furled. You feel its stiff frustration. And all in the name of a double driveway and garage - another flat and faceless wall. Poor cut and closed-up tree, it appears to hanker to be on the other side of the road, with more of its kind, living, rather than standing guard like this.

On the side that seethes, one gets to wondering what it is like to live such an overgrown life. The letterbox stands on one leg with an elderly lean. The garage is practically comic. So ramshackle and shrunken, so lean and crusty, with a wedge of too-green hair rakishly dragged over one eye, it appears to mind its own business, keeping well out of traffic.

On the side stark and still the letterbox is a hole in a wall with a 3-D number pasted on in large, shining dark silver. Next to that stands a thin gate with actual vertical bars, as if a slim, slice-of-cell admission of borderline practices, however there's nothing but more off-white and grey concrete to be seen through it.

The stark and still house appears exposed, splayed open to the world, but a closer looks reveals angles and lines calculated with such care as to appear open while being firmly shut. The horizontal bars on the large front windows double as sun deflectors and cover for the occupants to hide while watching. Keeps them one step ahead, I suppose, or presumes to at least.

The side that seethes, probably struggles to see at all. The garden, at once a grand and quaint affair at the same time, no doubt, in that English-country-garden fashion, is now in charge - while being out of control. Derelict England, yet another cultural cliché. This house is almost derelict. The house, at least on this side facing the stark and the still from which it probably draws some unearned and possibly unknown credit, is mostly obscured from the road. The birds seem to favour it all the more and enjoy themselves with even more enthusiasm than usual. As if they too have raised a family, or maybe are still raising a family there.

An aside: Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed with the sense that birds, small birds in the sun in particular, are actually talking, not just twittering; forming what amount to words. In fact, so convinced of this and attracted by the idea I wrote a 70,000 word, young adult fable about a family of orphaned sparrows, who were effectively 'talking birds',  living in the remote South Island of New Zealand. The story is kind of written from the perspective of the author, who is living remotely in Drybread (actual place) and who claims that the main parts of the story, especially the dramatic ending, are true, as observed and experienced personally by the author, who remains, throughout, genderless. But that's another story...

These birds across the road from the stark and still, first-computer, appliance-like house, in the house that seethes, seem to be talking. I feel almost privileged to be party to it. The dry, left-over leaves make a pleasant scurrying clatter in the wind, all the while as if children playing some children's game, like musical chairs. Indeed the house that seethes lives.

The stark and still house appears to watch more than live. And it stands watch, primarily, over the house that seethes. The house that opposes it in every way, as far as character goes. If it were down to the houses alone one presumes they would detest each other, one brash and flash Big Brother, the other wise and wizened Old Man or Woman. The stark and still house appears masculine in its limited, clearly-defined style, the house that seethes is genderless in the way that some old folk are. The stark and still house wants to appear friendly and clean and honest, but it tries too hard and winds up seeming deceitful, cold and closed-in instead. Quintessentially masculine traits.

One house sags and seethes
the sweet mystery of material neglect,

The other stands stark and staring,
Stiff with the cheap secrets of material success.

I ride roughshod through their opposition on my way
along the thick black road, heading for the beach.

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