Sarah Coles

Prowlers in the dark


Garden at night

It is night in my garden.  This is what it’s like to be blind.   Unrelieved darkness. 

The place is full of strangers.  A vandal tears up newly planted seedlings.  Another tears leaves into shreds.    A cat yowls.  Something rustles.  Something scrapes, then patters.  A rat?   The place is weird, awkward.  Alien.  I cannot see, I trip and fall.  Night is not where we belong.  

Clouds part to reveal the moon behind the trees.  I can see slightly more.  It’s mysterious, more beautiful than at high summer. 

In the morning I see silver paths meandering over stones.  Snails.  And smashed snail shells.

Weeks later I go to Winterbranch, a dance at the Edinburgh Playhouse.  It’s dark, though gradually we see more as our eyes adapt.  A light here, then a light here.  A flash,  Rustles.  Patters.   Silence.  Squeaks like a rasp or nails on a blackboard – painful to hear.  Sustained dissonance.  Is it an animal, feeding or mating, or in distress?  A cat on heat.  Or the hums of electricity and machinery?  Or the drone of the celestial bodies? 

A brighter light, briefly, when we see shapes, but not their outlines, or make out what they are doing.  Some of the audience edge sideways to walk out.  Are they part of the performance?  No, just disgusted.  ‘Rubbish’.   

The garden transposed into dance. 

The sounds stop, the curtain drops, the lights go on, and we move for a drink. 

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