in the field a hearth,
far beyond the grass.
we drive two hours
each way, some nights
with kindling, quartered
logs and old news.
it is no memorial –
the flue still clangs open
and shut – sky accepting
or rejecting the char.
often, we remember
chairs, soup – acknowledge
that home can be
when the dark settles
in the creeping green
the fire brings
the sheep and cattle close,
their low calls
are old wood settling
around us, joists
and load-bearing walls.
the warmth felt
House of the Man Who was like One of his Specimens
There is a garden here, which we cannot see. We must enter through a door
with a key that is never turned. The house is always dark.
Photographs of the house and its rooms line the walls of the corridors.
Each image contains an image of itself, yet in all there is something
unique: replicas with errors in the copying process. He thought this
paradox was perfect in every detail.
He had found the secrets of life in death. Every room contains glass cases:
dead birds, fish bones, insects, artefacts as objects for all to examine.
It was another forty years when, under one of his glass boxes, his
correspondence was found. His letters theorised aspects of the world,
adaptations, reproductions, the engine of creation. He had kept all his
drafts, handwritten and meticulous, the paper softened by dustings of powder.
Museum item no. 95.404.4
Across five terraces: hollowed trunks
of châtaigner, each with a lid of lauze,
like a regiment of kepi-wearing soldiers.
This one’s darker than the rest,
its wood so scorched and weathered
that the bole is shattered
to chips of charcoal, amber, orange, red
like a vertically-stacked schist wall:
see the master of the house
in hood and overalls
fanning smoke to hush the colony,
lifting away the lauze, slicing off the wax,
making of the hive a chest of gold.
Years from now, his son will stand
to announce their keeper’s death, will vow
to serve them as his father did,
will drape a black silk square
over this first hive,
its burnished whiff of pollen, nectar;
quiet words of honour; knowledge of how
to transform darkness.
Bees symbolised life and prosperity for the Cévenol household. A neglected hive was an omen of bad luck. The ritual above was performed upon a master’s death.
châtaigner – sweet chestnut
lauze – a flat tile of schist
* The title of this post comes from Issue 19’s extract of Adam O. Davis’ longform poem Stetson in Retrograde from his collection, Index of Haunted Houses (Sarabande, 2020).
There are tongues, they will be ceased / He Gathered the Wind in His Fist by Jim Carter
Fox, cow and sheep bone, fox fur, poplar leaf, cow teeth, soil, wood
In these two territorial boundary markers, the right hand is closed and mute, suggesting secrecy, the unknown and arcane. The left hand is raised so as to challenge unjust and oppressive action, forbidding trespass into hallowed terrain.
Born in Worcestershire, Jim Carter’s sculpture and writing is concerned with the mystery and vulnerability of land and wildlife in relation to humankind. He has received an MSc award in Ecopsychology from the Centre for Human Ecology, and an MA in Art and Environment from Falmouth University. His work has appeared in magazines and exhibitions throughout the UK.
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Dark Mountain: Issue 19
Our spring 2021 collection of prose, poetry and art revolves around the theme of death, loss and renewalRead more