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El Laberinto

In Practice on June 17, 2015 at 11:38 am

El Laberinto

“We got a new doorbell,” says P.

“Did I tell you?”

My fork stops dead in the air, half way to my mouth. It’s the best opening line I’ve heard in a while.

“No, Mum,” I reply. “You didn’t.”

She embarks on an account of it, describing the melody (which I’ve forgotten) and telling me how nice it is to have a doorbell that plays a tune. It makes her smile, she says, whenever someone calls. I do wonder about the caller though. Are they smiling? There is no doubt in my mind that my brother, who pops in to see them every week, will be appalled. She doesn’t seem to have thought about my feelings either, about the difficult position this places me in – to be a person whose mother has a doorbell that plays a tune. This on top of the clock in their living room that plays a tune. I can’t remember that one either – I think I’ve blanked it out – but there’s no escaping it when, on the turning of the hour, the clock face splits in two and each half does a three sixty rotation, slipping back into place on the final note.

It’s all a bit much. What if someone were to call at a minute past one, and the clock was still going off as she answered the door? Have they thought about that? Aural mayhem. I can imagine any visitor taking a step backwards, my brother included – it’s the kind of thing that would make even family think twice about going in. Read the rest of this entry »

La Luz

In Plenary on April 1, 2015 at 9:50 am

La Luz

In Plaza Mina, any little irregularity in the promenades cups a vestige of the water that a rising sun will soon suck up. Smoother surfaces are smeared with a fine film of it, in sweeps and swathes as if somebody has been at them with a mop.

It hasn’t rained. The place has been hosed down by the orange clad operatives of the municipality – nocturnals that keep it clean, locked into tit-for-tat with the diurnals that dirty it.

We stroll beneath a miscellany of species – Date Palms and Banana Trees, Bunyas, Peruvian Peppers, Yucas, Cabbage Trees, Elms and Screwpines – and above us the upper branches, of the palms especially, squawk with the raucous birdsong of monk parakeets: bright green birds that delight the eyes and terrorize their fellow avians. From top to bottom – from the airborne exotics to the wrought iron grille of the benches and the monstrous roots of a Moreton Bay fig tree – the square is testimony. A story is told in the light that filters through the potpourri of plant breeds and dapples the stone paseos, the tables on their terraces, the old kiosk. It speaks of a great, enriching influx from a New World, of plants and parakeets and money.

In the grid of the old town, away from the squares, the x of each intersection is replicated on the vertical axis and the eye as it looks down any street is presented with the same symmetry More