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

Friday, 21 September 2012

in Morbihan

Drops of rain. After the Vendée the land starts to rise and woods refresh our eyes.

I hated the Vendée. Wide open, flat, agribusiness (aggrobusiness). Made me think of the Fens and the madness of the fenlanders*, and I was angry at the many pious statues of La Vierge, and the calvaries and crosses, all juxtaposed with the acres and acres of intensively-farmed pigs, hens, geese with their poor force-fed over-stuffed livers for paté de foie gras – and, worse, the veal-calf units where the young things spend their entire short lives in darkness.

There's something in the sky I can make no sense of – a huge flying machine thing with what looks like a number of geese streaming alongside. We're in megalith country where there's traditionally a high number of UFOs. On the other hand I think of that excellent French (or French Canadian?) film 'Winged Migration' – a big favourite of mine – where they lead young geese on migration by microlite... (or is it 'light'?). Perhaps this is actually happening, in the sky, right now, over my head, in southern Brittany?

A red squirrel leaps across the road. Where we pull up for coffee a fur coat on the back seat of someone's car, like a huge rumpled dog. Very dead.

Scents of autumn. Then Carnac – once not long after dawn my daughter and I hired white horses and cantered down the long megalithic stone avenues. Twenty years ago? More? She was 8 or 9 I guess. Winds of change, waters onflowing, etc. Now the avenues are fenced in and you have to view the alignments from boxed-in platforms, as if they were wild animals.

And here in their long dreaming the stones point at something 6000 years beyond our sight and understanding.

* I am not being fenist – not really. There's something called 'fen sickness', a kind of inertia and depression I believe, which is perhaps akin to 'cabin fever' but the opposite, sort of. When I lived as a student in Cambridge I found a fen depression easy to understand – all that flat land and oppressive white-grey unchanging skies – so alien to me, brought up as I had been by the Atlantic, between two moors, in hills and woodland where the skies changed every few minutes...  And I know too that the fens have their own mysteries.

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