Julian Lass

the marsh

(a squelch circuit)

It is the point of the year where winter is nearing an end and spring is yet to begin, the brambles and nettles are still in hibernation and buds are appearing on the trees. I have with me a map of the area which shows contour lines, footpaths, boundaries, and I set off along newly cut hedgerows following a strip of ancient trees that once marked the parish border but is no longer marked on my map. Further, five tall trees that line the edge of my field of view are also not shown, and I am unable to orientate myself. So, I walk like a sleepwalker until I notice a shadowy companion, a white pick-up truck, headlights on, slowly following me on the other side of the trees, marking a border between me and the field I have just crossed, the suspicion of the farmer aroused by the lone figure crossing his land, the non-denizen foreigner in the midst of stability. Underneath my bare feet the grass is wet with dew and I circle the marshy ground, but I am too close, and I fight the urge to see where I am from the point of view of my map, a God's eye view. It is impossible to see unless one goes into the air, or looks down from a hill, and there are no hills here. From ground level I see only patches of raised earth, and morassy ditches, so that walking across I fall into the marsh by mistake. Deeply exhausted, with my gaze fixed on the horizon, I start to sing, which gives me hope.