Memory tape 1 (from the desert lands)

a railway track through the desert

by Caridad Svich


Need not be an actual analogue tape. could be a mix of digital audio, photos, video. The feeling of shifting through someone’s collection, as they search for whole-ness. And maybe too, in so doing, a letting go.

Where are we? The desert. the wilderness. The outback. Place full of history, blood and alie/nation. Cos this is a kind of home too.

What I remember is


The touch of it

A certain warmth

The smell of their hush

Amber breeze blowing through lazy skies

“The purity of God,” they said

“Here it feels as if we are in the presence of the purity of God”

I looked out the window of the car

The breeze settling on my pores

The cracks of the earth meeting the cracks in my skin

We had travelled miles and miles

Across all sorts of terrain

Your tornados and floods

My sudden snow and way too early blue-sky summer

The anger of the gods was far from our minds

But we wanted out, anyway

Out of the stuff that had made us

And had asked too much of us

In the big cities that bled grey

Like the greyest day in one of those far northern cities

Sad-faced song-makers sang about on the warbly radio

Out of the capitalist chapels

With their swoony aura and gilt-edged glamor

Out of all the things that held us and bound us to compromise

And into the wide, wide vastness

Resurrected from a catalogue of bad medicine

Sold to us by a carny devotee of bombastic faith

We knew not to trust

But we still made time to offer them cake


Here in the desert

The snakes rattle a low slither

That wraps our skins in sheer alertness

Primed for emergency, we are

Primed for emergency, we were

We were the children born into blood

First memories tainted by violence –

Shooters with rifles aimed at kids

Aimed at us

No thought in their brain

We carried this with us

Like we carried the ghost of falling towers

And blazing fires

And the sorrowful faces of the dispossessed

We thought if we just ran away

Into this desert of no dreams

Into this place that gives others pause

We would be happy

As if happiness was an entitlement

And not simply a state of being


This was then

When we were together

back when we shared things

Back when we thought touch could save us

Even though we’re far from touch now

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