1. Woman with Chainsaw and Time

Over, she thinks. The sky, slate gray and uniform. Outside, at 7.30am, the man with the chainsaw cutting a tree bears an annoying promise: noise through the day will creep inside the room. The sound of the chainsaw cutting a tree annoys, yet the space cut away from that stubborn, uneven knot of sound is absorbing. On waking up inside the room she’d heard herself repeating, prompted by the dull rhythm of the chainsaw, I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day: remnants of far away readings emerged and roped to the refrain of today. In the room slate gray and uniform, this morning she sets off on the traces of the memory of that chainsaw sound. She thinks of the dead reassurance of its having been, a trembling outline now masked by a shroud of words: wake, feel, fell, dark, day. Not day. A reminder? What prompted and informs her memory was the chainsaw sound. So she begins to move: in the coils of that shrill sound when it hits the four walls, she begins to think: of the coils of that monotonous sound relayed by constrained waves of remembrance; she falls. Sidetracked into a meander of subordinates, she looks at the wooden table in the middle of the room, chanting to herself silly along the dull rhythm of the chainsaw sound: On ‘wake’ I cut a leg, on ‘feel’ I burn one, too. On ‘fell’ I’m feeling better, on ‘dark’ I’ll smile at you.

On ‘day’ I’ll stare, at who?

One day I’ll stare at who. Stare at the fall. Hear the chainsaw, its shrill monotonous hum as it slits a sharp line over the timeline of her time past. It opens time up against the four walls around.

She hears a bundle of words that stays and hovers, peeled off the four walls around: wake, feel, fell, dark, not day. What is this language few will understand? Feel the fell, fail the fall, of words unorchestrated disentangled. This chainsaw sound seems familiar but she can’t attach it to anything: it slides away, like herself skirting the perennial resurgence of the question: Where am I? What radiates on me? What a chance, to hear the chainsaw opening up a hole in her innermost memory – wake, feel, fell, dark, not day: empty, but deep. The buzz and the cotton-wool quiet around, the edges of this old table, the chainsaw sound and the softness of the quietude around. Chainsawed out of a silence she is beckoned to speak. Chainsawed out of a past, she sits. Even if she’d chosen to stay locked in here for days, even if she had not leaned out of the window, she couldn’t have erased that chainsaw sound and the string of words emerged with it: wake, feel, fell, dark, not day. This morning she woke, only to make the stillness of those words last. Over, she said, but she needs to make it last: the compression of this now against the weight of then. To hear for the first time happens at least on second hearing. ‘Is it because we apprehend a memory’, she repeats to herself. ‘Because we feel in one world, but we think and find the names of things in another: we can establish between those two worlds a correspondence, but not fill that gap’. She immerses herself in this moment. It weighs on her and is fixed. She looks at the table. She’d been so fond of it for so many years; she’d called it Time.


A giant bumble bee buzzing to the edge of irritation flies and looms in. It circles and closes in. Circles about the window, and around the room and in these walls and then inside the mind. Now she thinks of a city and its crumbling walls. The city immense, growing, amoeboid. Black silhouettes of trees, clouds like gags, a slit of deep orange dawn light first opened on the cardboard surface of the sky, then splattered all around till its edges are soaked with red and there is no time to brush it away, to dilute it with the tears of a watered past.
Her tongue knows no language to express what the chainsaw sound and that refrain of words and images bore within. Dried, it can only mock, reflect at best. The buzz circles and closes in. Stops for a few seconds and then again, it closes in. It trims the uneven edges of her rambling thoughts, and of Time: the table. Persistent, the chainsaw sound does not say a thing: it insinuates. It is a material thing happening inside the room and taking it over.


Someone has just delivered her a chainsaw. In her mind she hears the roar again and thinks of the last hours spent killing time. Joint together and yet divided by the diaphragm of her recollections, into and out of that sound, she builds a counter-chant to that buzz, against the old and seemingly immutable sound and the immobility of another morning, slate gray and uniform – wake, feel, fell, dark, day. She turns on the chainsaw and begins cutting Time.

[continues with A Diptych (2)]

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