Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry

Day 257


the body the land
stretched out
an atlas to her fingers
ley lines running
every way which
she can trace
and understand

the signal blocked
here there and there
she feels the knots
under the surface
eyes closed breath
held tight inside
her meditation

the box the cups
the glass the roundness
the vacuum the cavern
the hills the paths
the mountains the peaks
the rivers the cliffs
the bends the chasms

oil and hands
the open orbs slide
along the lines to
lift the pain out
of the depths of
his prostrate body
this theatre of medicine

movement ceased
the six cups of
fable remain static
and suck the poison
from what’s left
of him until he
wakes and heals

but even healing
leaves bruises
and scars on
the land




When was this tunnel last used, Aggie asks herself. How long since anyone saw it? She has no idea, but the dust is witness to what must be decades of disuse. Perhaps it’s even been forgotten by all but the most diligent examiners of history, like Bill. Or perhaps there is one lone maintenance person whose pass Cassie has duplicated who wanders this course now and again, and lazily, without cleaning. There will be others who know, and many who suspect, but none with the ability to have clambered into these old fundaments. A secret hidden in plain view, behind a simple piece of wood panelling that get painted every now and then, but hasn’t been triggered by human hand. Perhaps not since Truman himself used it. Aggie smiles at the vagaries of history, at the fact that no-one ever truly knows history, except for those directly involved. Oh, personal histories we all have, but they are only a tiny part of global history, shifts in power, the taming or releasing of deadly powers. She clenches her fists at that thought, and even the coiled-up warrior inside her can’t fathom why the lust for power should be so all-consuming to some people, mostly men.

She’s approaching the White House from the rear, not from the direction everyone knows, not towards that famous frontage with the curved balcony carrying those white columns, a frontage that presents so serene a view as to mislead people into thinking this is a peaceful seat of government. Seats of government are rarely peaceful, not towards the outside and the other, nor inside, where they are riven by petty rivalries, quests to gain more power, more wealth, more influence, rivalries which end in more assassinations and deaths than the public would ever realise. Aggie’s body goes taut now, and she slows her steps. She must be under the oldest part of the place now, or at least at the edge of it. How deep, she doesn’t know. Approaching the northwest corner of the place, the West Wing probably somewhere to her right, the corner where the family dining room and the state dining room sit next to each other with whatever discrepancy in pomp there might be, with whatever stains on the wall there may still be from the previous administration under the new layer of paint the new President will have had applied to the walls.

And then the tunnel ends. It just ends. Nothing but a wall. No pass scanner. No sliding door, no door of any kind. Aggie stands stock still and waits, she doesn’t know what for. She pushes against the wall with her hands. No movement, no give. She pulls her hands back. This can’t be right. This was not in the plan. She turns a full circle, hands back out in front of her, touching each and every side of the tunnel, floor and ceiling, too. No fissures, no protrusions, nothing which could be a mechanism for opening a solid piece of wall or anything else. But her fingers detect a difference in the material of this wall. It’s new. It can’t be more than a couple of years old. Her fingers, almost absent-mindedly, start scraping away the the mortar between the tidily-assembled bricks, breeze blocks by the feel of them, modern, flaky mortar. Her fingers, those fingers which have delved into Anna’s body, into Lily’s, that crushed the dead Tom’s fractured skull, patiently manoeuvre their way patiently, gradually, around the shape of one of those blocks, until she feels it come loose. She pulls it gently from its surrounds, puts it quietly on the floor, peers through the hole, and sees, in the darkness that to her eyes is no darkness, the outlines of metal railings and bannisters, steps leading up into the house, and down to an even deeper level of dungeon than she had anticipated.

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