Traction traction these valleys of sand this journey for a fool. Machine coughing and sinking in the granular centuries. This desert red and once holy land now firing up to split tongues of heat scarring the sky in wavering sheets and shimmers of light. Ashes of fire falling. Wheels on the way to melting sinking sinking and downthrusting wheels. No track. Trackless sand sand and red sand, white sky furrowing with troughs and tongues of white blazing heat. Unbearable weight of sky and light. Red dust. White sky ungiven land, land untouched, rejected and thrown back before the act, the act of creation.
No one been here before this, before this journey. Fool. Forward motion sensation only – false chink of light – false. False gleam of a lying light, dying spark, all promise and no give, no gift of light. Machine gasps on fumes of gas, fuming gas and choking red sand red sand white sky. Cheat of light. Cheat. Bastard false gleam of light.
Heat illusions up ahead: camels
swarms of gnats
storm c.ouds. Impossible to tell.
Intractable surface, shifting ground of granular centuries. White sky and clouds of – a
Rest a moment. Stop. Nowhere now but – at
At the end of this sandscape, this shift and roll, over these dunes maybe on the other side of the s.orm dunes. Storm. And beyond the red rage of mountains raging out red in the white sun intractable sky far off far off. Ok. somewhere beyond in that place you – Listen. Listen:
You heard of it as a village – it was called – it had a name – n.me. Name. or as a moveable market place with stalls of balsa wood loosely framed and shadowed in the muted light. Stalls where fish and mangoes and bright fabrics were sold, where fountains plashed in cobbled squares and fresh water ran free and sweet to the tongue. Dark sleek bottles of fine wine in the evening. Necessary rest. Caesura. pause. The sun set, the light shifting down and dozing down and dreaming down into the consoling dark the cool cool siege of night. Fermata. This is:
How you heard of it long ago. You heard its name, as if something real. As if. You heard it was real and of a reliable substance. Named and therefore is. N.med. And so you you wrestled everything together – every scrap and every thread and every trinket and every stick and sold it all for this:
This old beaten-down gas-choked, flame-throwing machine so you could take this so-named: blessed journey. Lost, abandoned, ill-intentioned. False. Journey for a fool. This journey you thought. Thou.ht. was so sanctioned and so true. Sanctioned by “God”, sanctioned by a bald rabbi reciting Kaddish, by a father who studied the law, by a grandfather with white hair, of terrifying stature, scholar who knew, who knew the law, professing this much: that such a journey would be worth it. Fool. You heard of it, you heard it spoken of but that means nothing. It was all gone long ago. Taken away down miles of track. Wheels turning in the night. Track of the sun. Inscribed and recorded recorded to death.
To find this other place beyond the red sand white sky furrowing into troughs and tongues of heat, ashes of fire, beyond the red raging mountains. You think you haven’t seen this? You’ve seen it. This small village or market with stalls of Balsa wood, loosely framed, the glitter of fish scales the bright willowing fabrics luffing and snapping in a clear soprano of a breeze. You think you haven’t seen this? You’ve seen this.
Machine gasping on fumes now, now veering side to side. List one way. List the other way. Wheels sinking in sand. Sinking and down-thrusting engine. Trackless. Impossible tilt. Hold tight to the wheel. Hard to keep it steady in the shift, the roll and drift, the swallow and valley of sand sand red sand white sky furrowing keep the balance. Ba a a a lance. Side to side. Impossible veer to the right and to the left. Unnameable angle.
It had a name it was called. You heard it once as something nameable and real. A village well-loved, a market.
Keep the thing upright and moving forward move it forward even if forward is no such thing. Only a hope. A senseless hope, all motion is hope, all hope is senseless. Journey of a fool. False and sinking in granular centuries red sand red sand white sky. Hope less journey of a fool. But still more: a hope.
A sensation. Hold on to that: the sensation only: journey of a fool: sensation of a journey. Sensation only
Drive to it all the same, all the same drive on drive on drive forward the forward motion through the sand red sand white sky furrowing in shimmers of heat – to a distant place, its name – its name – remember it. The sensation of the forward motion down-thrusting engine the driving through – sensation only. False. Unnamed. Only a feeling of movement, a false feeling of movement, and the gleam of it in your eye. Eye of glass. Your eye of glass.
Rosalind Goldsmith lives in Toronto. She has written radio plays for CBC Radio Drama and a play for the Blyth Theatre Festival and has also translated and adapted short stories by the Uruguayan writer, Felisberto Hernández, for CBC Radio. Her short stories have appeared in journals in the UK, the USA, and Canada, including Burning Word Literary Journal, Litro UK, Filling Station, The Blue Nib, Fairlight Books, Chiron Review, and Fiction International, among others.