Jude Cowan Montague
The Bog Visits
I step under the pegs, through no washing, pass axe-split trunks, put the walnut brandy (too weakly brewed) to balance on my book as I walk to write something of my stay. And then out onto the green lane, not London's various 'Green Lanes' of Turkish produce and busy backs, but mild-wild-blown reeds and seeds, pressured flat down by sea-violent air. I catch back-flung cries of sea-settlers in the flexible stems, cleverly bending in this northeaster. Too fierce for canoeing. Crouch down on the grey sand of broken shells, I think of England, wrecked in a pile of snails and cockle homes griefed at my toes. In the depths of midsummer, Teddy and I fished this shallow reach for mussels; the iron pin points religiously up from the waves, where I knotted the net of sea-beasts to clean themselves for our better eating.
If I stand up, the air can catch me, play with me, chill me. So I'm ducked down on my ankles, folding long feet underneath, bearing my weight on my ankles. Once ladies crouched to work, and cracked the white powdery hardness of the brittle sea creature homes to release the juicy hearts. I'm hunkered, ready to scribble, but have no words to harness with my pencil which might describe this grey rolling mess of the Lille Belt.
We push onward into theatrical jungle: purple skirts for a can-can, tiers of red top-hats, white suits rough-sewn sporting lapels felt-tipped green. A pink, fluffy unicorn is preened to charm audiences with a string of pearls wound round its magic horn. Often we do Hans Christian Andersen, says my host before grabbing a plastic broom to twirl an impromptu majorette moment, which prompts her colleague to run over and tap out a tattoo on the snare. A plasticine Michael Jackson, who wears his military jacket lightly, stands to attention inside a cabinet where he performs his part in quite a complex model of a drama between good and evil; Lying on the shelf above, an orange dog with beady eyes has tipped over, and his neighbour duck may not quack for help, as his beak has got bent. Circled by bushes of red berries, hemmed in by cold air, warmed with coffee, our hearts glitter like the plywood cut-outs madeto sell in a gift shop. Tacked up on a wall are our instructions; blow worries at a dangling Danish puffing troll; patient pustetrold will carry cares away.
This landscape is ancient. After the last ice age there was no soil, no humus, no trees. Denmark was flattened by glaciers which rolled across the land leaving nothing but rock, sand, gravel. And the first plants to grow were the grasses, and then the heathers. Then the trees began, bit by bit, until the beech came, when the woods really grew strong. People lived off the food from the marsh, catching and chomping lizards, voles, ducks. The sacrifices that were thrown into this peat that have been preserved till the present day. Teddy initiates a sacrificial victim being despatched in a Monty Python style.
I'm not going in that bog
You're going in the bog
No I'm not
I cut your throat, will you go in the bog
What if I strangle you with a rope, then will you go in the bog
Oh — alright then
Dark leathery bodies have been kept in this larder whole in their awful death in sacred peat. Deliberate finely-tuned messages from the past desperate to tell us about how to live. Their physical bodies are silent. But they shout through our comedy mouths. Unlike most murders there is no wrong to be investigated, no criminals to indict. We create impromptu satire on forgotten stone age culture.
is a writer, artist and composer who lives in London. She works as an archivist for Reuters Television. Her first collection of poetry, For the Messengers
, was published by Donut Press
in 2011. Her second, The Groodoyals of Terre Rouge
will be published by Dark Windows Press
in 2012. She makes musical improvisations on Reuters stories and these are available on the Parisian based netlabel Three Legs Duck