Monday, 7 December 2009

An Ode by a Thomas Lonsdale

Virginia had walked this path repeatedly over the past month or so. Today, however, was to be her last. It was to be the last time she'd pass the glorious oak tree that she had once, hand in hand with her husband, strolled past and felt a wave of something ethereal engulf her soul. It was to be the last time she would breathe the sharp air of the Winter deep into every corner of her lungs as Boreas darted from the North. It was also the last time she'd ever shed a tear as she lamented over the cruelty of Nature. The natural world which, through eyes once so optimistic, now hoisted itself up to the gallows each Autumn and pulled the lever as the hangman only should, only to resurrect itself in order to die again. Mother Nature protected herself from the melancholic Winters in a way no human ever could. Human nature had grown so twisted that, twice now, it had turned on itself in a great mass of tear and bloodshed. More poignantly for the reader however, the Nature of Virginia's mind had stumbled ever so slightly on the never-ending road to genius. Never can something so small have so little effect as it can - and so often does- on the mind. She carried on towards the river.

She grew tired by now, so she sat on the bank to rest her legs, mind and heart. She spoke to herself aloud, telling herself that she was thankful for her husband, as a lone swan danced gracefully around the corner to the left of her. He had called her his 'Swan' in the early years of the marriage and the image had never left her. It was tattooed upon her heart, inked upon each vein. This happy haunting. This woman, like the swan, who was in public so mute, could embody such moments of beauty in times of silence. She'd never considered herself as any other bird. Her father had called all of his children his 'Geese', after the favourite Fairy Tale of the Stephen children, but Virginia had never considered herself a Goose. Whereas, as her Father told, the Geese had, and still continue, to hide from the Fox behind their prayers, Virginia tackled her Fox head on, unafraid of the consequences. As she plucked stones from the river bank, she noticed the swan's wing was maimed from one or another of Nature's cruelties, life's liquid daubed upon the pure, as in her head. She rose, unable to tolerate such thoughts that now swamped it, like scarlet red on white. Onward, she went, further downstream so that neither man nor beast nor thought could distract her from the oncoming inevitability.

Whilst the thoughts in her head often dwelled upon the horrors of grown men yearning to feel the blood of an opposition on their cold hands, the thoughts of her head fought harder and with more consequences than any War ever should. The longing to kill another was about survival. The longing to kill one's self was about death, escape and freedom from the self: a final, inevitable way out. She tried so hard, as she paced head on into a nipping breeze, to forget. As many others before her and many more since, she could not. She was the Swan, not the Goose. Her proudest attribute was about to lead her to her downfall.

And so, cold hands in warm pockets, Ms. Woolf reached the place she'd learn to fly. The river was no longer than any room of her own, but she knew it to be deeper here than in any part along the three mile stretch she had walked. The current there, as the folk said, was capable of dragging a grown man so far under that his body would whirl straight out to sea within three rises of the Sun. Part of her had wanted to ask if anything less would have happened if it were a grown woman. She had stayed mute. As she stood on the river bank, she could hear only the gentle 'coo' of a wood pigeon, goading her. She waited for her life to flash before her eyes. The life didn't appear. Her doctor. She thought of the note she'd wrote to her husband. Her right foot flew forward. She thought of him. Still nothing appeared. Still the pigeon went on. Hyde Park Gate and Godrevy Point flashed. But no life. Her breath increased. The screams of London's air raids. How happy he'd been on their wedding day. Still no sign of her life flashing anywhere. Her lungs scrabbled as if for one last mouthful soul. How his soul had comforted hers. She thought of the picture on the wall. Her London house burning. Motives for actions were nowhere to be found. She clenched her hands. For no one’s actions, ever. Her siblings and step-siblings. The picture of herself. The smell of her husband's duffle coat. The stones were cold, comforting. How the mind was capable of such alienation. And her Leonard. But what good were reasons or motives? And how she would be remembered. How cruel the Winters were. But the reasons were countless. Her left foot followed. She thought of the Swans and of the soul. She thought of how doomed the future could be, is or was. And she saw the Fox, the triumphant Fox.




But there, in the air, all was silent. The quiet of corporeal, of mind and of soul came forth. Virginia, myself, died right there, in the air. My soul left my body, escaped, as I had longed it to do for so long. Left to dance with the bloodied swan, on the river where I slept, and in the air, where forever, we'll fly.

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