It is a rather romantic notion, but there are quite a lot of starlings around this year. They fly in low groups over the moss, which I learn are called murmurations from the elderly man who I often find strolling across the flat planes.
It was just on the cusp of the switch in light levels that I was out on the moss with my mother. We ended up having an argument; no, a discussion. It got rather tense. I have never been good at weaving words together. They are dependent on syntax, structure, placement; my mind is fiery and scatty. I struggle to form a solid perspective, maybe that’s because it is always shifting.
Perhaps the starlings thrive above the flatness, from their perspective, they can’t see the gaps in-between the layers. But as I stand parallel, I find some comfort in a temporal certainty that their vastness cannot be encapsulated.
When sorting through my father’s old books, we find his histological atlas. The pages display microscopic cross sections of tissues and organs.
They are stained so we can see them better.
Plate 49. Reticular fibres.
Plate 28. Mesentery.
Plate 60. Trachea.
Plate 85. Sublingual gland.
Landscapes of the most familiar unfamiliarity. Reverse rendering, sliced for pathological understanding. To be viewed through a lense. To be viewed on these pages.
Are these slices retraceable? Displaceable?
Dad used to sit watching the starlings on the telephone wires from his bed. Then, later on each day, when moved to the couch, he would watch the sparrows feeding from the table built specifically so it was within his stationary sightline.
Connecting his bed and the sofa is a narrow corridor, I trace my fingers along it, leaving slight grease stains on the paintwork, texturing the walls.
In classical architecture, rustication is a masonry technique to give visual weight to flat surfaced stones, dressing them with patterns and textures. I have noticed these populating the base-level exteriors of the large buildings in the centre of town. Just as I run my finger over the smooth paintwork of the corridor, I run my fingers over these stones.
This time, I leave no stain, no fingerprint.
A far-fetched thought then slowly pulls in, gracefully arriving to mask the confusion; what if this histology is retraceable? What if we where to inscribe the very patterns of the histological plates into the walls, the stones of the frameworks that we move within?
There is no logic to this thought, so I let it rest.
But it keeps seeping back.
I think some people find the thought of this histological imagery overtly visceral, playing to a squeamishness, if that’s a word. But there is something in their flatness that distances me from their context, it is hard to sit here and imagine these plates as our interior landscapes.
Landscapes that move within us and with us.
After his morning wash, we would guide Dad down the flat narrow corridor towards the couch. Sometimes, his fluctuating strength caused him to lean heavily against the walls, after sometime this resulted in black trail marks at around the height where his shoulder provided the balancing point.
These trail marks have now been painted over in a oatmeal shade of cream. Painting over means a fresh start; but it’s not a new one, just a coated one.
The lines he traced daily will remain inscribed into fiber of the walls.