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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Mist and Mood

There is a fog that comes and lingers here in the mornings and evenings, outside my house, in Victoria, B.C. It brings, or is, a mood.

The mist hangs itself upon the streetlights, a gentle lampshade of dreams and stuffed silences. The blasted garry oaks twist up through it like monstrous varicose veins. There is no discerning where branches meet mist, no entering that space where mist touches world, grows into things and indwells them, possess them.

It has come again tonight, by some unknown, untraceable signal for invasion. Mist, cast like a net, cast with abandon over murky shipwrecks in the deep, descending and raking ocean floors in a slow search for more than scuttling claws and weird waiting mouths. We wait and watch as the streets outside are hunted for what is bright. For us, the mist always comes as a capture, swallowing headlights, lampposts – swallowing and savoring, a digestion in reflection and refraction, even the moon caught in that maw of a thousand little mirrors chewing and swallowing and all else it is invisibly doing. Soon our streets are licked clean of all pure light. It doesn't stop there. It stalks the clouded airways for other kinds of clarity. It hovers over the land like a lion on a victim lamb, the pursuit perched upon the pursued. 

Really, the mist is no different than the air – but it protrudes more, broods more, presences itself more than infinite air ever could. It is as though the air itself were struggling into tangibility and hitting some barrier which, if it stepped beyond, would destroy us. As though it delighted itself in knowing this... and knowing its beauty must be this very nearness to danger. Would it ever give up beauty for destruction? Perhaps that is my secret longing, watching its motionless activity, suspended everywhere: I want it to take that step, jump, splash this puddle of earth, and ripple away my life.

The mist, which draws across our mild city like an immense, lazy serpent, titanic and unphasable – I know it now. It is ghost-butter, blended spectres spread thickly over houses and trees and streets and reality, all the screams and the deadly whispers and the snaking movements and half-seen eyes of phantoms: homogenized and congealed in a grey paste of impersonal surreality. There are no answers in it, only muffled terrors and muzzled spooks.

I continue to gaze at it, and lean ever-so slightly towards its bulk, because I cannot stop myself. The answer-less cloud pulls the question out of me: is beauty is more than a mood?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Patrick, I've been thinking about this post for several days, and would reply in depth but the last time I tried the system kicked it out!

  3. Okay that worked, let's try this: as I write this from the big Island of Hawaii I can report that there are areas that are almost always oozing with "ghost butter" (an example of a great modern poetry mash-up!). Permanent road signs read "Fog Area"; one imagines confident settlers throwing up shacks behind the chuckles of locals as the newcomers congratulated themselves on building outside the Hawaiian heat. Months would pass and these same settlers would dismantle their homes or simply walk away, their clothing moulded from slight shoulders, their pans rusted to their stoves. Now the only creatures that roam these haunted hills are the looming hulks of black Angus cattle not so much mooing as moaning in harmony with the eerie light.