Wetlands – Scott McCulloch

I dove into the longest delta I could find. I spilled into ancient waste and rowed to an incomplete kingdom of ends. Fatigued, with nothing to moor, it was only sensible to collapse in the marsh, down in the meandering lanes between reeds, into the saliva of the delta. All seemed bent on walkabouts through such outermost lengths, but still I fail to dissect the nature of this drift, apart from the desperation of it. It appears as a gamble on losing the secrets of seeds and how to harvest and tend the germ … the abscess of being slowly drained into the delta’s crisscross … further lost in the meandering lanes of a village coming in on the marsh. In response I’m barely able to spit out a sound, but surely my throat can erupt on the parade that’s appearing, as if to choke into existence. Or just exit elsewhere. Where I can drink the wetlands, even be the wetlands. Drink and belch them down the meandering lanes of the village and null the downing of pills with plastic bags on the head hunched over in the shower. Hole up in concentric tangles of reed. The swamp is filthy and the air is thick

the mirror reflects my disguise – can’t make the right noise in the right presence. Psoriatic stockings lining legs / green hairs on spine / anus mere puncture in back. Dead long ago, but free? Pockets of sludge beneath the belt; thousands of farmers swimming in a sea of honey the size of the delta. Time a constant noise, a compulsive distortion that rots – syringes penetrating earwax. Any sense of home seems repeatedly unfamiliar and haunted, even unbearable, the over-and-done-with coming alive. In any case, I stitch the marsh closed for the day and feel the pulse in my temple. I keep watch on a skeleton stripped bare by eels and birds, submerging among the reeds. Tongue of the unseen, down in the delta, wetlands, vista of melancholic brine, afterlife of visions. I wake to slack wires inside skull. First light of morning comes in as we lie dazed … dazed into long afternoons spent telescoping the navels of insects … sitting, festering. Yet, in any case, a new hemisphere has presented itself, appearing … ‘to deal in raw materials. To be after whatever is lurking beyond thought,’ I hear Carcass say, native to wetland. Shafts of sunlight bleed across the reeds

a mob of delta cretins arrive with a brass band conducted by a Priestess with the thighs of the Congo. They teach us steps. A stumbled tap-dance initiates Carcass and I into the wetland village. A Bishop slips through a taut banner of hide, starts to whisper: ‘there’s no need to be a twat about it. No need to gobble all Christian compost, to give in to your own goat-fucking rehearsal and be a stupid twat about it all.’ Big-Eyed Nude Boy caressing the hide, beguiled by the cut that’s formed, stares into it

a little fire inside a cocoon – wild hips of night, sultana penis on the back of the hand – blending the marsh until it turns to pink and leather. The cretins convert me into the finest purveyor of schemes and nitty-gritty … predators in all four corners, the prey in the fifth … the digestion of nature, brimming with shame, blank and mute. The glaring delta scummed with minerals. Moon rolling past sun, exhaling map of stars and carbon. The whole ravine split by an eagle’s scream. I draw phlegm and spit on the ground. The delta tumbling into rips, toward a well in the middle of the water … a netting of wetland and dream; my thoughts spill out until the Boy slaps me over the back of the head

the seal to the conclusion of life long forgotten, along with the keys to its re-telling. Joyous fanfare keeps to the sound of whistling reeds, the tide going in and out. Feet and paws pressed in manure, somehow keep printed despite the onset of the floods. Wetlands swallowed into a charging strait. I see my body dangling in the well before the marsh overflows

onward with absencing, from basin to basin, gargling half-slumped in the next wetland down the way. Consumed by liquid ozone, hung in the sun to die