Emma L Waters reflects on time and space; its visibility, changeability and its constant influence.
The pace is different back here and I am impatient. People move with the drifting disorder of the clouds, which blow in from all directions. Tumbling down from the plentiful mountains on this island. Seeping along the rivers. This island at odds with the sea around it.
They like space here and plenty of it. When there are crowds they are not used to reigning in their movements and collide. In a drunken festival crowd, people knock into each other as they spin and turn against the city folk who’ve flown in. The contained city folk, whose bodies are bridled to small boxes.
In the city, people rat race from A to B and all the other letters too. Not stopping. Sharpening each other’s edges.
Here, people drift with time and space on their hands. They throw themselves out into the road, not expecting traffic. Thrusting themselves out like gusts of wind across the stream.
I returned here, for this dominance of nature. The sense of time and space that floats from the mountains, across farmland and down the quiet streets and out to sea. But I move in a different way. The way of the city. The way my body grew used to maneuvering through tight spaces and narrow streets. Crowds and queues. Space. Never enough.
They like time here and plenty of it. I queue behind a man for many minutes. I am leaving very definite imprints in the air, in the bitumen, in the sound waves, yet he still doesn’t know I’m here. Right behind him. I am a transient with no such permanency. A person. Not a statue. Not a shop. Not a boundary. I have just arrived and am still not grounded in this place. But – I am here – though he doesn’t seem to know it yet. He turns and I am forced to step out of his way to avoid being trampled. And still, he doesn’t see me as he leaves. Face intent on a thought that will take him to join this dot to the next dot in today’s puzzle.
I walk in snow. It falls in large flat platelets that idle as they fall, though the wind in the treetops is certain of its strength and speed. In a forest of myrtle and tall gums. I can see distance in the air exactly. Every mobile fleck of it. All around as the slow snow falls. Far away. From high, high, high and further. Mid-air. Mid-distance. Close. On my nose, tongue and the prickle on naked eyes. It strobes the air in pointillation, like an icy pollen. It melts around my feet and then crystallizes again in a cold tightening that pulls at the skin. I watch it fall through all the open spaces between leaves and branches. Falling through to rest on the curling mud and gravel road ahead. And then there is sun, and soon all the leaves that were laden with the temporal tiny white, slip away to glossy dark green. The river tells itself to hush, but it cannot, and the more it tells itself to shh in its secret ravine, the louder it gets. Brimming and tumbling with a secret it cannot keep. And time flows at its regular pace again. The wind shakes the last of the slow snow away. I pull my feet from the ground and walk on.