Spun Out

Blog post
Published: 07.03.2012

I sit on a rocky outcrop. The stone beneath me is solid. I feel the sun on my skin and through my clothes, grateful for it’s warmth. Imagine being reptilian. I hear nothing but the slow, rhythmic sound of the waves breaking with a crump and retreating with a swish. Crump and swish. Crump and swish. Crump and swish. The incremental creeping of mollusks in the small rock-pools occurs in silence ― imperceptible, except for the slow lengthening of their trail in the sand, or when tracked with utmost patience against some object beside them. Nothing else appears to move . . . only the dependable and almost hypnotic action of the waves . . . crump and swish . . . crump and swish . . . crump and swish . . . What else? The sand must be moving, impelled by the action of the ocean ― grinding itself smaller. Smaller. Deep-sea-weeds will be swaying in unison with the waves. Fish swimming in their shimmering shoals, or solitary. Crabs sideways-crawling. Shrimp moving in mini-jerks. What else? What else?

Abruptly, I remember: nothing is still. The earth is spinning, where I am, near Sydney, Australia, at approximately 1400kph, and whirling vertiginously through space at 107279 kph. And the space through which we whirl is anything but still. Vertiginous indeed! Dizzy, I am dislodged from my tranquil musings. Unsettled. I place my hand against the warm stone. In spite of what physicists might say about the vibration of its atoms, it feels still and solid.

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Now I sit indoors writing on a device that operates with the utmost secrecy ― invisibly, except for keyboard and screen ― and for me, for the most part, incomprehensibly. One massive magnetic or solar storm and all is lost. Irretrievable. Is this why I work in stone? for its solid dependability? Its rugged, gritty determination? Its promise of perpetuity?

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I’m house-sitting for my son and daughter-in-law while they play in the snow Japan. Beautiful — but it’s beautiful here, too, by the ocean, and warmer than up in the mountains, where I live. I’m also charged with watering their pot-plants and with the care of their rabbit, Momo ― a small flop-eared bundle of white fluff. A stolid, self-contained creature, she spends long periods just sitting, then suddenly runs in jerks and skitters, leaps into the air . . . frisky . . . jittery. I watch her curious mode of rabbit-ambulation: front legs walking, back legs hopping. It’s tempting to compare her with dear Matilda, who I like to think I know so well after two years, though you can never know a cat.

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Yes, it’s beautiful, here — comfortable and warm, the aromas of the variety of available foods fill the air, and the ocean, which I have always loved, is just a short walk away. But it’s not home. Sometimes, it doesn’t take much to feel alien. I change the frequency of the radio and listen to “my” music ― music I would have first heard in my mother’s womb; I feel the rings that never leave my finger, and am home.

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About the author

Margaret West is an artist who sometimes makes jewellery; she writes: mostly poetry essays. She has exhibited widely in Australia overseas. She lives in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia.

About this blog

Touching the thingness of words the wordness of things.