A little place for stories. I wrote this one as part of the Luminate Festival and performed it at a recent open mic night. Based on family tales. I hope you like it.
An Island Tale. A romance.
Once upon a time a young man lived in a city in the centre of a large ragged island. Now this island was surrounded by smaller islands and these little ones could in (their) turn look beyond themselves and see smaller islands still, smaller and smaller until the islands became rocks on the shore. Though rocks on the shore are only islands at high tide when the sea swirls in, (but islands they become.) Waiting for the unwary. A doomed sailor or a stubbed toe.
But here I am stretching far from my subject like the seashore. I was telling you about the young man. A fine strong young man he was. So that when the war came, as wars do, he went away to fight. (As young men do.)
Our young man was a lucky young man and he came back from the war. But machines had stretched his city so it ranged up the hills and the sheep were rolled into bales in the market hall. Everywhere was the noise and the clamour of looms and forges, dust and bustle, noise and fire and dirt. But didn’t I tell you that this was a lucky young man? For he was able to find one of those small islands and settle where the scratch and swish of the sea on the shore could bring him peace , and he grew strong again on the salt and the tide.
So strong in fact that he could return to his city and raise his eyes above the smoke for a place to put roots. And though the hillside can be harsh and cold, his roots held and a family grew.
So our young man is happy, not quite so young now, counting round the seasons on the hill.
And back on the island? The seasons turn there too. A little cottage missing voices to bind its rafters grows creaky and stiff. But islands are sirens and this one calls in more young folk.
This time two young people meet, and they are masters of numbers. While the young woman chalks hers onto walls, the young man conjures his into metal and paper, sorts and keeps them safe, sends them out into the world. Their own numbers add up, and multiply then send themselves out into the world, teachers, doctors, soldier, s….singer. Not sailor? Well…….
But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Lets stop for a moment and think about islands. Floating on the tides, washing in, washing out; tides bearing people and goods. In and out, across and back, warp and weft. People, cloth, sheep and stories. Families split, families form. The twine unravels and knots again. The story changes, the story grows.
And so it was. Our young woman had been washed from her island, out to the city and back again, to other shores and other ties, she found her young man, made her family. And not alone. Her brothers, like so many others, did the same, out from their island to the city. And like the earth with the moon which drags the tides, the big island draws things and people in. But the outward tide washes them back, though not always to the same shore.
Why am I telling you this, all the warp and the weft and the sea and the shore? Well, do you remember that first young man? Where did we leave him? Not out on his island finding peace in his cottage? He was back in the centre, rooted well up on the hill with the city clattering and spooling below. A child grows, becomes a woman; called bride, mother, widow. Another little girl grows up, up in the hills, far from the sea. But one day a sailor catches her eye. A sailor whose father, had a sister. A sister who sailed from her island right down to the city, then back to an island where she chalked on the walls and met a young man, a master of numbers who lived in a cottage.
A cottage on an island where a young man now an old man, a grandad, found peace.
(bits in brackets work better when I’m reading it)