Thursday, 31 January 2008

SHOT NO 16, by Anthony Sides

The village he lived outside of at a farm and the quays and the keys and the stream and consciousness and the dusty sage hills in the west and all the towns and cities of the plain where the dust is as thick as flour hanging against the enamelled blue sky behind the car, following the fights for all of the summer, the Catholic religious festivals of the saints, eating apples and raw onions in the car, and the big apple briefly for work and play and drinking with the witless circle - "Did he really like me?" dying Dorothy asked - and an older city once, because of the strong $, and again for nostalgia, and the skies over another country along with youth and later and the clear cubist winter edges of buildings across a lagoon, and finally a poured concrete house above the flood, and then the greenish underwater light of the wards of the clinic and out along the northern river that a younger writer said washes up the body of the country, on days out for good - cheerful - behaviour, even breaking bottles in a row with a 22 Woodsman hunch shouldered white hair bearded steel frame spectacles with Father Xmas eyes behind worried by now - pop pop pop - a good pistol shot still for an old man; or always the summer small town in summer every summer as a child and adolescent - the frightening, attractive woods - the sky reflecting the lake and pine tops - the last good country - the lost good country - the places he said you can only go to again in your memory because when you go back for real you find they are ruined, back to front, though when you go back in memory in your mind they are still perfect and the same, as pristine as a boy's illusions or snow on a mountain seen from a distance and the green hills above the straw-coloured grass in the heat.

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