Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday commute xliv: as spectacles


Part of the pleasurable melancholy of beachcomb-ing comes from speculat-ing about where the ob-jects came from, how long they took to arrive. Hav-ing been in the sea, jet-sam, like wrecks, becomes pickled in agelessness.. I picked this last object out of the scum to look for a trademark which might give a clue to its origin.

It was not a training shoe but the sole of a human foot, perhaps half an inch thick and trimmed of the toes. Its pulpy upper side, long since leached of blood and colour, was threaded with nematodes. On the under-side were the callosities and scars of a life lived barefoot. 

Although it smelt I sat with it a while, wondering when and how each scar had been acquired .. It was hard to see how a shark would snip off the toes and leave the remainder .. But they are strange and beautiful creatures whose acute olfactory sense makes for impetuosity and abrupt switches of attention rather than thoroughness. Probably .. the animal had found a surfeit of food. I threw the sole back into the sea and rinsed my hands.

Out under the waves would be sleek stomachs and powerful alimentary canals digesting a cigarette lighter, tatters of denim, a pair of spectacles.

James Hamilton-Paterson
Seven-Tenths: The Sea and
  Its Thresholds
Europa Editions, 2009©


  1. yikes. gruesome for my Sunday early morning.

  2. It is, JtB, it is; but I think JHP is pretty clever in many ways and if I chose the wrong one or the wrong time, I truly do apologise. :)