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    Don Ashby


    Thin as wet string, hiss soft-scratch: fibre needle tracks. Brass bugle horn concentrated on the fine point of the vibrating translation from groove to gyration. An old wind-up gramophone plays Astor Piazolla. The walnut box and the brass horn glow, flash or stutter with the light from the leaping fire. Worn by repetitive fingers the pick-up head is brighter than the smoke tarnished arm.
    Clutching, two bodies, in a formal rictus. Sudden choreography. Separated by ridged arms, holds a hollow space between flat breasts and starting ribs: an empty womb on fire.
    Tango sweeps their bodies through the calligraphy of formal passion.
    The dancers: one dressed as an espanic cowboy the other floating in a formal gown of undyed parachute silk. He: crude Mexican silver fire red and orange flashes from string tie, boot points and spurs. She: gold hoops swings from ears. A jewelled dragonfly sparkles, a clasp in a wig of dark hair caught at the chicken neck as the dance presents it to the fire. Figured boots and bright black patent leather pumps puff dust from a ragged carpet figured in gold, black and burgundy.
    The fire, caved in massive fieldstone, contained by twisted fire-dragons of wrought iron, red with the profligate flaring death of trees, is the only light.
    Intently they tango, a concentrated commitment to the music palpable in the room. Eyes fixed over each other shoulders, unfocused, glazed, fixed, unseeing on the electric space between breast and breast.
    On side tables rots a feast. The wine: syrupy scum flecked with fly ash. On silver salvers – cheese, a ham, bread: dry, curl and grey. A rat basks in the heat and gnaws.
    They dance.
    As the curtains swirl with the passage of the figure and the ash swirls from the hearth: time zero points on now, and now, and now. Fire flashes on silver and gold. Fire stalks the dance with shadows over massive oak furniture cobwebbed, black and split with heat.
    The record completes it’s spiral – click scratch, click scratch click scratch.
    The dancers freeze, gravity ignored, in space they cease.
    Out of the shadows an old man shuffles. His features: carved wax, lips black, eyes open and dry as a sick dogs nose. Formally Edwardian: dressed in the manner of an English butler he delicately lifts the pickup swinging it across to the records rim. He cranks the handle and withdraws.
    They strut.
    Clasping, with purpose, each other – the tango.
    Sweat sparkles on brow and lip.
    Eyes never meet. The fire supplies light. The fire supplies heat. The rat basks. The rat gnaws. The butler waits.
    They dance and dance and dance.

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by Don Ashby.
    • This topic was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by Don Ashby.
    Don Ashby

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