Odinn's Night

I really liked working on this one. I've worked a lot with Odinn Orn Hilmarsson in this order: I write a thing, he composes music. This time, we switched places. He wrote the music first, I wrote to the music. It began with some basic sensations which then crystalised as my I looked for a frame of reference I understood. Once that first word dump was on the page, I developed it into something more coherent and reframed and restructured while trying to keep to the same journey.
The result is something I would never normally consider exploring and I hope that I have done so sympathetically.
Most of what I write is intended to be read out loud which can make it a headache on the page. This one in particular I encourage speaking. If something's bold, say it bold.
Odinn has very kindly allowed me to include the music he composed. Find his work on his Soundcloud page and go Like him on Facebook for news about the genius musical fjord that he is.
---

Sometimes I dream through other eyes. For now, I'm dreaming colours and fever. Red, white, steam. Heat.
I wake it's movement and it's smell. An animal smell. Sweat on my arms and back. I need water. I open my eyes, too bright. Sun flashes overhead.
Spots in my eye, bilges of a ship. We're held with jars of oil and wine and bags of precious stones. I am commodity. I am ware. Ropes on our wrists and a storm outside, I've already thrown up but I want to again. Dry heaving and spots in my eyes and sun flashes overhead.
It's movement and it's smell, an animal smell. We stop. I'm untied and someone grabs my body to sit on the floor. Sand. A desert. Someone hits my legs, spots in my eyes and
Back of a lorry. We're held with crates of milk and beer and bags of who knows what. The road underneath is well maintained and purrs up through the floor. Spots in my eye.
Back of a plane. We're held with crates of guns and bullets and parts of hospitals. The engines are loud and the space is cold. We huddle and freeze.
And on the sand I'm pushed to my feet and told to walk. Someone puts a gourd to my lips, squeezes water which catches in my throat. I choke and want to throw up but there is nothing to throw up. The caravan cries its caravan cries. Camels bray, men talk in languages I don't speak, the ring of bridles and clatter of metals: the song of trade.
We arrive at the steps of heaven. A stone fortress thrusts out of the sands and a long line of peoples waits to enter, standing on the steps and queuing beyond. The palace is the nucleus at the centre. Electron tents spin around haphazard; a canvas city beyond the gates where the embassies' staff and families wait to welcome back the brave journeymen. An industry grows between the ambassadorial tents, smaller canvas structures offer trade and food, shelter, services, men, women.
Spots in my eye, I'm presented to a man in a white wig who inspects my teeth, spots in my ushered into suburban home, spots in handed a kalashnikov and shown the way to my platoon.
Sometimes I dream through other eyes. I wake in my cot, the taste of cordite is on my tongue. It is dark. 
I am assigned to work in the royal stables, there for the grace of God, for the Great King, Shah-n-Shah, King of Kings, I shovel shit for Shah-n-Shah. And brush the fur. And fill the oats. The chief ostler showed me how. After trying a few, we found we had the rudiments of a language in common. Shards of meaning cracked out of Demotic, Nubian, Greek. He is an intelligent man, we have a lot in common. He is a doctor, by trade. The horses are to be bridled with red leather. It's hunting day. There is a wide paddock half a day's journey. There, Shah-n-shah goes to spear lions that have travelled in cages from the Atlas Mountains.
The leather is frayed around a fastening and I bring this to the man's attention. He looks at it with some concern but outside a sense of movement and noise and we need to be on our way. The great King cannot hunt by moonlight and we want to give him a time to find lions.
As we walk the sun blinds and my mind ticks over to a marble and glass hallway where great puffs of clothing and greenish skin move slowly past and tick to a narrow bedroom with three other women who look tired and tick to the eyes of a boy no older than me whose arm ends at the elbow and helps me fasten heavy grey crates.
Sometimes I dream through other eyes. The sun is going down but we have found a lion. Its fur is patchy and it walks slow and uncertain. A ring of horses blocks any exit and two men in bright clothes edge forward cautiously. One murmurs something that makes the other roar with laughter. The lion turns and bares its teeth. The man bares his own right back. He pulls back an arm and throws a spear. He is not aiming to kill, just to maim. A gash on the haunch. More laughter.
The great king comes forward, Shah-n-shah, may he live a thousand thousand lifetimes, ready for his prize. Horses move out of the circle and men jump down to burn incense and waft it towards Shah-n-shah's holy nose. He pulls back a majestic arm and lets his weapon fly straight and true. The lion flinches and the spear misses.
A shouted order and I am pushed out to steady the beast. I don't want to go and suddenly a sword pointing at my head. The lion roars pathetically and the king replies in kind. The circle erupts with laughter.
Then, suddenly, the unthinkable. The great king slips, Shah-n-shah, may he smell sweet smells and hear sweet music. He was stood to mock the beast and his foot drops through the frayed leather. The ungainly, fat man falls and all is chaos as men surround him and take their eyes... off me.
The sun beats down as all attention moves to the Dauphin's reception of embassies from Denmark, as we're driving again and stuck in traffic with the back door not fully fastened as my platoon commander is shot in the stomach.
Sometimes I see through other eyes. And we're running away, all four of us. My eyes flash between perspectives. I'm diving through the trees, I've got a stick to crush the foliage ahead, push away the rubber vines, something scratches my arm and I jump onto a ramp between quay and ship, there's shouting and ordered bustle as bags of spices are unloaded and provisions brought on, I sidle up past a coil of ropes, tall as a man, breathe quietly and and pound the side of the motorway with a baby in my arms while cars shoot past at a dizzying speed and the bright sun beats down and the desert stretches out ahead, a wide yellow lake except for one island, there, a small collection of tents that I don't recognise.
Behind me, the chase is led by my friend the ostler who will be punished if I am found missing. He works methodically, ordering parties in different directions. 
In the tents, a moment on the cusp. The owners are foreign, like me, travellers and traders. They see what's happening behind and see the desperation in my eyes. Some people believe that all of humanity is essentially selfish, that looking after yourself is the only course to ultimate fulfilment, that “Yes, but I need to take care of me” is a fundamental truth. I have always believed the opposite, that we are selfless creatures and it is fear that clouds that belief. And as I look into the travellers' eyes, I see a common philosophy. They wordlessly take me into the tent and wrap me in clothes and I surrender to their kindness as I tear into a junction and down to a services and ask for help and find the bosun and offer my services for his silence and over the threshold of a camp, chicken wire, where a woman in a casque bleue takes me by the hand.
Outside, another traffic jam. My apartment overlooks a major artery. People driving in to work. It's my birthday, I'm fifteen. This afternoon, I have an appointment with an aid worker. Other than that, the day belongs to me. Happy birthday to me. I turn on the television and flip it to music videos. I'm hungry, there's yoghurts in the fridge. That'll do for breakfast. I have to buy food. I have to clean.
One of the cars has stopped in the middle of the road despite the lane clearing ahead. It's blue. The queue honks loud and angry. Like geese. Cars try to overtake it. A man gets out and makes a phone call. He's unconcerned by what's happening behind. The sun is bright today, hurts my eyes as it reflects off the cars.
I have a secret. Sometimes, I see through other people's eyes.
The man gets back in and the traffic continues.
Glint and I am home with my daughter. We walk around a museum and I tell her her history. She absorbs it soberly then asks in a voice full of seriousness if we can have an ice cream and Glint and I am eating breakfast with my family on an island far from where I came from and far from where I went and Glint and I ... can't make it out ... it's dark-
Back to Top