The art smuggler

He was the son of the carpenter. Matched the description. Same village. If it had to be there and it had to be that trade then it had to be him. Villages are small. Located from space, traced through a desert and extracted. Extracted means precise, organised. It means money. This whole place, an expanse of space for tens of people. 4 staff to each person. An island in the Caribbean. A long stay. Still, at least they got to do crafts.


They spent time on it. Each individual thing. None of it very good. But working together they created silence. Thick: think sugar and water. Bits clump together. An uncertain amount of time and then a smell. Tracks start to form with the turn of a spoon. But how do you know? The smell. Savour for a moment in silence. And it scolds. None of it, the art, is any good. It reeks though, it scolds.


They had managed to accumulate a boon between them, the remaining prisoners. Materials had to be non-toxic and were permitted nothing that could scratch or slice. They weren’t allowed letters or numbers. In a place where no one exists, every painting and sculpture was the accumulation of everything outside the walls and inside each body. We were in them too, somewhere. Us and them tied together in their art, now contraband. These are dangerous minds and illegal bodies. This is not a holiday camp.


I escorted one piece to the storeroom and it found its way into my locker. It didn’t make sense to me. The mind can go anywhere and no where, depending on whether the walls were built to channel, for the flow. Walls and minds made to breathe through. The heat, the stranded feeling. It was all concrete. Solid. We could be anywhere and nowhere. So why build a ship? All the attributes you hope will rise to the surface if you where shaken, really shaken until you were in no order, just a sludge, and hoping resilience, bravery, strength, one foot in front of another because it’s the only way. They would be there, a solid. Not smells in a crowd. No just fear it’s the end. Just the bloat of fear and a cyclone of thoughts. It seemed too obvious: a ship to glide over the chaos and out over the walls.


I spied a little letter on the ships planks. It was stiff, I unrolled.  Broke it apart, convinced it was some abject message. Or desperate, or they’re the same. It was glue, National Geographic. Each page ripped stripped by strip. No room for waste. A backward conversion, lining the strips back into order. Back into something with more sense. A comfortable unreadable – inscrutable by design rather than something spilling out and instantly disguised.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s