Travel & Transitioning
Three things filled the abandoned room – dust, sunlight and the silence. I stood
below the blackened chandelier, hanging from the high ornate ceiling,
fearing the lead from paint specks peeling off the walls. In the adjoining
room I spied through the neglected doors a nude painting, a white bicycle,
tyres flat, and book shelves holding rows and rows of ancient volumes,
but the largest pile of rotting books lay in the room
I was in, on the rusting military metal
desk. Three moth-eaten armchairs must have once been host to
connoisseurs of philosophical conversation, sitting in front
of the torn painting depicting deer outnumbered
by hunting dogs. They must have had debates
about communism, the party and the state.
The floor tried to stay marble despite the bleaching benevolent sun.
I had the feeling I’d find liquor in the little black cabinet.
Clocks had little reason to the strength of daylight.
I bounced on the mossy rocks as I waited outside a geothermal pool
for the bus piped with easy listening. Somehow the sulphur stench
matched the devilish sky. A nice dark-haired girl spoke good English
but turned out Finnish, an exchange student with a positive attitude.
She worked in a greenhouse and found the Icelandic tongue cunning.
The tiny town centre was deserted, the young ones were hungover
from the over-exertion of Saturday night, smashing absinthe bottles, the shards
gleaming blisters catching light from the sun too weak to relieve the cold
of its bitterness. It is on this kind of island, on the edge of the habitable,
where by next week you could be dead, that I felt most alive.
On the drive back to the airport along the black coastal highway,
I could sense the taxi driver, mumbling through his white rough beard,
just starting to warm up to his alien passenger.