from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Saturday, 30 June 2012

heart of sand

On Thursday, mysterious red dust splodges all over the car and TM's pickup.
   'Saharan dust', I say airily.
   'Why on earth should it be?' TM asks.
   He's right. Why on earth should it be?
   'I just know it is. Southerly winds?' I attempt.
   'Doesn't seem very likely.'
   'No, I suppose not...'

Driving back across the moor on Friday I catch a Met Office man on BBC R4. He's talking about winds from Africa driving towards mainland Spain and creating a weather effect called the Spanish Plume. This seems to create ice in the atmosphere (upper atmosphere?) which in turn has a number of consequences after it's all crossed the Channel into Britain, some of which are the flash floods in the northeast of England, landslides in Scotland, unseasonal hailstorms in the Midlands, and 110,000 lightning flashes mapped in GB last Thursday alone. Oh, and deposits of red Saharan sand in southern England. I'm not underestimating the human unhappiness of the devastation caused to eg homes, railways and vital supplies. Nonetheless, there's something somehow a little bit subversively exciting about the fact that the dust on my car comes from the Sahara.

And this happened once before, in the last century, which is why I 'just know' that it's Saharan dust. Later, in my prose-poem collaboration A Hawk Into Everywhere (2001) with poet Rupert Loydell, I wrote 100 words about it (sort of). Here they are.

'Flavours, colours, names of the winds. Mistral, sirocco, tramontana, migrating over land masses, oceans. Contagious; madness, anxiety, restlessness, unspecified yearning. Salt-foam and fish of the blustering westerlies; sherbet-stainless-steel of the tricksy easterlies, setting horses skittering. The wind off the Urals that flattened the Fens and the fenlanders. Your car misted one morning with red Saharan dust, wind-skirts full of swallows, laden with odours of spices and rose. The dark tents of the Bedouin rocking with reek of camel dung, hashish, incense. Indigo and aubergine nights. Grit that gets into your eyes and makes you ache all through.'

© Roselle Angwin & Rupert Loydell 2001


  1. Yes I remember that saharan red dust from last time, again this week when my cars and windows of the house were covered in it. I thought Oh that Sahara dust, glad I am not going mad either. And as with all these strange anomalies equals magic and wonder. Also as you said sadness and disasters too.

  2. M - thank you! Hard to know when you're an artist what's mad and what's not, hey? ;-) x


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