Serir, Erg & Reg
by Norman Jope
[ poetry - june 04 ]
From Suspended gold - Saharan pistes
And then there is serir. A cleansed space, a location wind whistles through, arranging the remains. A somewhere else, where nothing prevails and the horizons are constant.
We can only define it by moving slowly. There are no nests for the arrows that fall.
This is a space where silence enters the pilgrim - enshrines the one who renounces action and event. A surface of refusal reaches into the refusal that is death, a domain where every gobbet of flesh is razored directly from bone.
Its tenuous gravel is arranged on pallid sand, beneath a sky in which nothing, not even the human eye, is tangible. Its expanses erode all primate curiosity, returning the mind to reptilian languor. The brain is spring-cleaned, as if by an injection of menthol.
Each stone here is a ka'aba, the tiny temple of a posthumous grace, on which a black sweat drips from marmoreal bones. They turn to gold, then scarlet, in the light that dismantles them.
Coming here means to assent to a deeper nakedness, in which all flesh is superfluous. A heap of bones at the bottom of the star-well, one is filleted by photonic vultures.
Knowledge, here, is scorched. Belief, ignited.
We are suddenly here, where the music stops, and the invention of the Names of God begins.
Soft sand covers the shoes and scratches the lenses of the eyes. The sand is the colour of a filtered lens, that is trained on a blank surface. Where does that colour come from? It hovers and drifts as the shadows darken and harden, ambassadors of an ethereal weight. Ergs extend in a limitless expanse, forming waves and crescents of golden dust, on a horizon of suspended gold.
The erg's imperative is the silence of the footprint, which can outlast one's life. Traces in the erg - the hyena, the jackal, the gazelle, the horse. The mark of the eye of the bird of the night, left in the space at the bottom of the slope, insinuates that the vultures are circling. Addax and oryx skip across the dunes on delicate hooves, filling their jowls with aristida plumose. Here is the lazily-shrivelled fire-meat of the interior.
The void of the eye fills up with sand, on the skin of a world just 93 million miles away from the source of its conflagrations. It is possible to stand, tongue roofing the mouth, in the face of a blast that sends all water heavenward, causing the lips to crack and the tongue to swell. Facing the seas ahead, the sable seas which would scorch the naked feet, it is possible to inscribe the Poem of the Clearing but, in this unforested place without abundant wells, the text becomes a series of glances. It exists in an eye that has become more brittle than stone, that is on the verge of becoming powder where the Many confronts the One.
So silence confronts Silence, the eye confronts the Eye
The gravel coats the eye. The sun is a bowl of acid, drawing the softer colours out of the face. Each mile is ripped from the silence. The stars melt in their cages, as a heap of dust explodes and covers the moon with the spectre of itself. Everything swims before the mouth.
There is nothing here. Perhaps it could be mined, the perfect excuse for speculation. It is smooth, hard, razor-finned and brutally contemporary. It exhausts all signatories, sealing the lips of the herald. On a shield of granite, schist and gneiss, it loiters and squats. It wipes the distant sound of pestles, that hammer millet in oases to the south.
Azure on gold - heraldic noon. Brilliance is raised to the status of fire. The gravel dismantles the eye.
One must wait for the stars, which reappear cooled in the rapidly freezing skies of evening. Then the world swings open, devouring all models of itself, all compromised measures.
Lost on the reg, having walked a plank of words into its gold-grey sea, one imagines that tomorrow's landscape is pre-ordained, that the ultimate nothing stretches across the pupil of the eye. But then something changes, if only for a moment - and, beyond the pollens of dream, the horizon blows open, revealing a presence that spins webs across the shallow gulf between nothing and something, enabling a weightless moment to assert itself. Elusive as a waran, flicking its tail in the furnace of another day.