‘Memory Tape’ is the fourth of a series of texts written by Anna Mace as part of the CtC Writer in Residence (CtC WiR) Programme launched in October 2017. Over the course of four months, the resident writer will contribute short stories, inspired by a contemporary work. The inspiration comes from the artist, Aki Onda’s, ‘Cassette Memories’ series, and in particular, I’ll Be Your Mirror from Bon Voyage!: Cassette Memories Vol. 2 (2003).
That sound, I felt it call me up
it slowed me down; it mirrored me
drew me close and imagined me,
made the pylons quiver and shake and
the fence hinges clang and slap and clap
against the rhythm of the wind, and
as we climbed up to the mourner’s bench
their shadows filtered light into the gloom.
It was just solidly, solidly breathe-in, breathe-out,
seeking sin where cries seemed to suck
tight in. The cold, like lace, fluttering over the trees,
and skies like jagged teeth bombed in
broken lines across your eyes. The dog
bent down, old and scarred, owner’s whiskey-mottled
cheeks; sneezed. His clothes are sodden – smell of soiled,
stained and shit. The mud was black and greasy,
sinking suddenly underfoot and reek
of urine passed in waves, the dog he stamped
and shook the rain and stared at the man,
like the man, who trembled, coughed and said,
the time is enfolding, olding, folding up and choking
life, and we just stand and stare, and stare. But
all this time is in my head, in tiny mix tapes
playing out. You point to where some green
balloons are stopping overhead, chuckle out loud,
recall, that’s James, he always longed to be a pop star
but the man and his dog, they look more sad
and down they look, and down and down,
deep down into the darkest ebb, the flow of which
it does not flow, at times, nor soothe but rough,
it smoothes through words, until we hear
the sharp and cold, the snaking palms
with which you reach for me.
And press against my silken clothes and take my hand
and eyes with which align my hems,
strip me to my grey-black self, you recall to
reach inside and lean into me. But only I
for invisible, can see the stooping crow, sometimes,
back then, pass the soldier by and fly, a torrent of unending
taunts they cry, a man whose mission had been
lies, they said, it isn’t right, it isn’t right,
for men like you to dress in other ways, and
play with others’ hearts. It leads to other types of
strays (ahem), and man and dog they walk away,
walk down the hill and into night, and James,
forever boy, he hangs above your head, and in our head,
your precious time to leave with me, your love
and loss of indemnity, your faithful clasp to the memories.
Anna Mace is an artist, writer and poet. Having studied Fine Art, she is keen to merge the boundaries between text, art and performance, experimenting with different creative media and seeking to engage with a broad audience. Inspiration comes from modernist, symbolist and experimental poetry traditions. Between writing she works as a teacher and has lived abroad in India, Japan and Europe but now resides in Bristol, UK.
Published poetry online includes; Kemptation Music, Boundless magazine; Ink, Sweat and Tears and Visual Verse. She was resident poet for the National Trust at Bucks Mill Cabin, Devon, creating limited edition art zines.
Her current projects include writing poetry for the bookart edition two and edition three, Revolve: R, where her poetry was made into short films. Revolve:R has exhibited nationally and internationally in 2016 and 2017.
Her poetry manuscript, am, was shortlisted for The Melita Hume Poetry Prize 2015 and 2016 with Eyewear Publishing, London.
She has also helped co-direct writing workshops for children (3-14 years) as part of Paper Nations with the Eden Project, Corsham Library and Africa Writes Festival 2017.