And then what happens: a body is discovered. A body is discovered come down a river entombed in a mysterious stone. It is a river of Africa. An unknown stone is come upon by a group of villagers in a river of Africa, which like the garden of Delius is for us an invisible village, a village of the mind, as a book is, an unknown stone is carried on a current throughout this book and is now washed up at a village of Africa in this book where the villagers claim that they heard the stone speak, which is why they attempted to prise it apart and when asked in this book, in the village of this book which we must imagine, what sound this stone spoke in, it was described as being like a screeching bird, like a parakeet, was the consensus, like a warning cry or a territorial marking, but then they thought, someone is entombed in the stone, they said, are there floating cemeteries now, they wondered, has someone been sealed in concrete (like a doomed dam worker on the Colorado River, is how the song goes, fallen into the wet concrete below), and so they lift this stone from the water, this coffin stone, is how they describe it, this black headstone, and it makes the sound again, the sound which one of the villagers impersonates, it goes Ook, Ook, she says, for it is a female villager with a lazy eye who presents the impersonation, Ook, she says, Ook, and she waggles her arms like a chicken or maybe an actual parakeet, who knows, and when they lift this coffin stone from out of the river they are surprised at how light it is, that’s exactly what the female villager with the lazy eye says, can you imagine her, she says, it was as if the stone was filled with light, she says, which is an odd thing to say but not if you think of how light the sky is when it is filled with light, which means, I think, that there was some kind of confluence of the elements going on, is absence light, is light mass, is absence present, is mass absence, are the thoughts going through these villagers’ minds, we can imagine, as it goes through our minds, our invisible minds in concert with this book, as we imagine Delius, in his garden, which now is the tomb of the song, and this stone, light-filled, now risen from the waters and prised apart, yes, that is the beautiful phrase we will use because to be prised apart is what the first stone demands, and it is love that makes demands, I don’t care what you say, call me apolitical, it is love, ultimately, that makes demands, and that is to be prized, apart, so as to come together, all over again, and so they crack it open, they crack open this light-as-air tomb, and what do you think they find, well, first they talk about the sign that was engraved on the front,


which the villagers, and there were three villagers in the beginning, we will reveal at this point there were three female villagers, although one goes completely unrecorded except for her presence, except for her attendance there is nothing else known about her, as if a lazy eye permits us knowledge, as if the scarification on the other villager, which appears as tiny tears, or as footprints, away from, and into, her glassy blue eyes, as pools of pure water in an endless desert, is how we will imagine her now, in this book of invisible encampments, and she says, it was a sign of the sun coming up between the mountains, was how she read it, she says, in a badly subtitled interview afterwards, and then her companion with the imagined lazy eye says, no, to me it was a woman lying back and giving birth, and she says, her legs are raised, in calipers, and the sun is shone between them, she says, in the same badly served translation, she says it, but then she says, ah, she says, it is the third eye on a Chinaman, I realise, it is the creased forehead of a guru, she says, it is a Sahdi Song, she says, but she declines to elaborate, but what I have gleaned is that a Sahdi Song is a song that sounds like it is coming from a long way away, just as tears often feel as if they have been coming forever, just as tears feel as if they were forever being cried, just to arrive, now, in our eyes, is the feeling that she received from the presence of this light-filled grave on the waters at this village of Invisible Africa, is a rendezvous, she is saying, which is one hell of a way to think of everything that appears right in front of you, that it set off towards you somewhere round about the beginning of time, that heartbreak and tears have been stalking you since year zero, and love too, and magic, also, set out long ago, as their companions, and here it is, now, an impossible light-filled stone on the water had made its way towards us, they said, this first three, and it was crying in distress, is what the woman with the water-filled eyes is saying in this book as if it were a memory or a fact, but how else has it come to us, and it is as if we are uncovering some kind of secret causeway, some underground railroad, some series of words and letters that would allow us ingress, and they start to break the stone apart like in a rescue mission and it seems almost impossibly dense compared to how light-filled it appears to be, and it is designed like an Egyptian bark but like a motorboat too, our lady of the pale-blue eyes says, because there is an engine, she says, and the first uncovering, through pickaxe and crowbar, and what were they doing with a pickaxe and crowbar at the river that sunny morning, it begins to sound more and more suspicious, or devious, maybe, devious is the word for the beginnings of us all, after all, but in its unlikelihood is its truth, it seems to me, but they split part of it apart, they sunder it like an Old Testament God, and there they have it: a white cube, all stained and damp with the tears that have been chasing after it, no doubt, and they say it is hermetically sealed, although of course they do not, they say no such thing, the subtitles say, I should say, the subtitles say, they say something like – and this is going on memory now, faulty memory in a book about imagining – something like, there were no seams with which to prise an entrance, I think it was, and seamless, I thought, seamless, not even a pair of testicles is seamless, but this seamless cube takes some imagining, which is as it should be, because as gods cannot we always do better, so they uncover this thing in a white cube, which is like a square of mathematics, I think, now, which is like an imposition of rules, well, okay, stone is the first rule, so what, and inside this impregnable white cube there is a dreaming head, is what this story goes on to reveal, and they take it out and it is a Sightless Head, a Sightless Head whose face has been effaced, whose face has been supplanted, whose face has been removed, and they say, oh my God it is a faceless head speaking and this is what it speaks:


And then they discover the body, inside. It is a stone sarcophagus that floats on the water and it is the tomb of a man. And his face, there is something wrong with his face. His face has been augmented, is how the badly subtitled interview puts it, his face has been augmented, by which the natives meant (natives, how offensive, although native is one thing I have never felt, one thing that has been denied me, in my voyeurism) he was wearing a death mask, they thought at first, and they thought, this white man dressed in a formal suit is wearing the face of his ancestors in death, perhaps, they thought, and they reached out and they were almost able to insert their fingers beneath the skin, they could slide their fingers up and underneath the skin of the face, it was a primitive job, this new face had been sewn on, the body embalmed, dressed in a suit and tie, and then encased in stone, and then the miraculous woman with the pools for eyes said, it is the face of the head, and all three of these villagers in the beginning, and this is sounding more and more like a parable, like a Kabbalistic parable, like the story of the doe, the story of the doe that passed through three iterations of water as a stone, and all three of these imagined women, these headless speakers, turn to face the Sightless Head and it is missing more than eyes, it is a skinned, mummified head, and its face, clearly, has been transplanted onto the body in the tomb, and who rolled away the stone, after all, it was three imagined women in a garden of Africa, inevitably, who were the ones that rolled away the stone and revealed this silently dreaming head as the engine, this face-swapped corpse as the deliverant, which is another word from the subtitles but this time an inspired one, a mishearing, and my own mishearing is to mishear the face of the head as the place of the head, for some reason, that’s how I hear it, and the place of the head is gifted, anew, to the dead, which is why Christ is crucified on Golgotha, which is the place of the head, of the skull, of the head, Golgotha itself means a sightless head is dreaming history, is what the subtitles fail to elucidate, this is prime-time TV, what the fuck do you expect, a sightless faceless head is dreaming history from the beginning and its revelation is a stone that floats on the water in a river in Africa in an invisible garden which is the mind of this book dreaming is not prime-time viewing, so then they call the police, this is what happens, they panic and they call the police, which is always a last resort and let this be a cautionary Kabbalistic tale, they call the police and the police turn up and they panic, two police officers turn up hours later, what the fuck took them so long, how many bodies in Africa, I guess, but they turn up and they panic, up until now thanks to the three dreamy disembodied women it has all been faith and awe but now that the police are here, well, it’s big trouble, buddy, and it’s a whole other drama, as the first of the two police (for police inevitably traffic in twos the whole world over, and now there are five ghosts at this exhumation of the First Church of the Stone of Silent Witness), the first police becomes the police as soon as he sees the body, and its face, and its head, and he says that this is fucking voodoo black magic shit and get this the fuck out of here, this is bad voodoo, he says, this means that someone will die, he says, this says, with certainty, he says, that someone will die, and soon, and that violence will take place, and that there will be much suffering across the land, he says, he, too, is caught up in the bibliomania that is taking place around this entombed corpse, this rolling of the stone, and wasn’t there a story that when the stone is rolled away, in The Bible, that one of the Apostles mentions the presence of someone else in the tomb, of an unknown person, resident, in the tomb of Christ already, when Mary and the girls show up, and so there is (I have always been here before, is how the song puts it), there is an unidentified body in the first tomb, and the police are the first to say that this first dying presages death forever, which is why you should never trust the pigs, and they say, get rid of this fucking thing, they say, this fucking thing needs to be destroyed, and seriously, one of them picks up a big fucking rock from nearby and starts assaulting this excavated burial, this crime scene, possibly, technically, probably, the police just start laying into it and they don’t attack the head, it’s weird, they attack the body, only, they assault the body as if they are afraid to let go of their own ideas, they assault the body in the name of holding off death, which is the worst name of anything, ever, they mutilate this precious corpse, essentially, precious because who has ever seen anything like it, is it not incredible, this stone held up on the waters, these arms fed into a suit, this head, its face replaced, forever, I fear it is my favourite poem, and I fear I may have written it, is what the violence of these pigs says, fear of authorship goes deeper than anxiety of influence, these pigs are saying, as they lay into this corpse, these literary critics are expounding, and soon the corpse is just a bloody mess and its half-sewn face is torn off and it resembles the first man forever, which is a mashed-in man, is that not what some other cop said, something about the future being a boot in the face forever, typical response of cops, this belief in the beating of corpses, in the flogging of horses, which is why Nietzsche lost his mind, because he was not a cop, and here are these cops, flogging a dead horse, flailing a dead businessman, is my theory, because then what happens is the stone disappears, the stone that floats on water was stolen or secreted or smashed up and sold off, but what happens is it disappears without a trace, although go to this village in Africa, look it up, I’m not about to add to its notoriety by naming it, go there and you will inevitably be offered fragments, ashes, chunks, brick-loads of black stone that claim to be from the First Stone on the Water and most of which is mere volcanic rock, aerated stones, badly painted replicas, and but they take away the head, for some reason the head in the cube is taken away, the police make the three girls lift it, by the light of the moon, which had just then come up and made of them silhouettes as they lifted and moved this glowing white cube, glowing faintly now, in the dark, it has to be said, and they carry it like some scene in The Grapes of Wrath, where we view them, somehow, from an angle that pitches them perfectly against the horizon, that makes of them dark ciphers and ghosts, as they accompany this ghostly head on its last verifiable journey, this dream that has dreamed this book, certainly, this dream that has loved and been loved by women and men, this church of memories, this Cathedral of All Summers, and there is something tender, after the violence, in the removal of this head, something grateful, and forgiving, too, as we watch them from this uncanny viewpoint where the moon seems impossibly large, and stained yellow, in the sky, and the women like a painting, on the moon, or a flag, flying, and this stone, silent.

David Keenan

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