JULY 22 2015
Hackney Marshes, out on the edge of London. I take the train from Victoria Station out to the Clapton stop to meet up with the writer, Nick Hunt. I met Nick through the Dark Mountain Project. Tall soulful Nick appears with an all-metal rusty spade and his beguiling girlfriend, Caroline. She directs plays. They take me on foot to Hackney Marsh, a vast park along the Lea river. Low slung houseboats are tied up along the banks. Cattails wave in the breeze. Towering over the fields and trails and blackberry thickets are gigantic metal pylons, holding up endless power lines pumping electricity across the sky.
Nick and Caroline are excellent strangers and it feels good to walk with them in a place I’ve never been. In the distance across a wide field a fluorescent green vested policeman waves his arms madly, gesticulating at us to move away from the line of trees next to us. He’s up on a rise where the railroad tracks run. We walk over to him and ask what he’s on about.
“There’s a vicious dog on the loose,” he says.
“What kind?” I ask.
“A Boxer, attacking people. No collar,” he explains. This excites me. Suddenly danger is inserted into a seemingly harmless place.
Dashing pin-hole photographer, Will swoops in on his bike with camera strapped to his back inside an old trunk. He’s brought me a brand new pickaxe otherwise known as a mattock.
We move off away from the dangerous dog area. One of my hosts knows a secret place down a trail of willows in a hidden clearing. It is a place known mostly to men cruising for action. I suppose I qualify. It sounds like it is worth a recon.
Down the trail, through the willows I enter the clearing. This may be a hook up spot but it is also a rabbit warren. Grass is nibbled down brown and close to the ground. The clearing is dotted with bunny sign and a few round burn scars from campfires. A train track over beyond the overgrown hedge up on a rise. The train hurtles by occasionally, faces in windows. This will do fine.
I need a hard surface to bang the iron head onto my pickaxe handle. I find a large chunk of concrete in the willow woods and I bang away until the head is jammed on to the handle. I turn to run back to our location. I am suddenly face to face with a plump Hasidic man. He is looking for action. He was not expecting a wild-eyed man in a suit with a brand new MATTOCK in his hand. He freezes in place, paralyzed, not sure if it is time to fight or flee or beg for his life. We stare at each other for a second, then he steps back. I grunt and bolt forward past him down the path.
I begin work and right away it is clear I am in trouble. This is what Ireland threatened to be. This hole will take a toll. I believe this is my fourteenth dig. And this all metal shovel will never break. My new friends are set up for a sort of picnic on a blanket over there in the shade. Shards of flint are hitting me in the face so I put on sunglasses.
A buff guy on a bike rolls out of the willows, looking for fun, trying to appear casual, and without a word he turns away from us and pedals off in another direction.
How much sex has been had here in this place? As I dig it occurs to me that the pleasure people come here to find is most often directly linked to an ORIFICE. The hole is key. I can’t hear you without a hole, or see you or smell you. We can touch each other with our hands but before long we are headed for an orifice.
noun: orifice; plural noun: orifices
1 an opening, particularly one in the body such as a nostril or the anus.
This hole is hurting me. Coming up on two hours of picking and digging in the blazing sun, flint packed soil, sparks coming off, hands bleeding, blisters.
I am feeling the pain as I attempt to manufacture my own orifice and fit myself inside. Once in position I will most definitely not be having an orgasm.
My arms won’t work for much longer. I can barely lift the mattock. I try to fit inside again and it is not deep enough. Nearly two and a half hours of digging. Nick has to go to work somewhere so we say goodbye before I’ve finished.
Clouds show up and rain might fall, but they blow away on the wind and sun continues to beat down on me as I dig. I try to fold myself up inside the hole but I don’t begin to fit. Way too tight. It seems to be shrinking. Go away, it says. Leave me be. I don’t want you here.
I can’t take no for an answer.
I pick up the pace and then I slow down again, reminding myself that this will take as long as it takes. Laying down, looking up at the pylon, trying to hear the high voltage current passing through the cables. If the cables snapped and fell they would writhe blindly all over this ground like crazed anacondas of electricity.
I wonder what the vicious Boxer dog is doing. Hiding and panting in a hedge, scared probably, thirsty, whining quietly in his chest, then growling at the sound of voices.
The black campfire scars in this clearing are sure signs of life and fire and gathering. Have people fallen in love in this clearing? Have random hook ups in this spot led to long term soul mate situations? Probably not. Campfires, bunnies and sudden sex between strangers.
Sometimes when I get up out of a hole I am nearly cross-eyed with lust. It happened like that with crawling occasionally. A primal part of me comes back from the underworld ravenous and expecting some kind of immediate sexual reward for my work. I feel entitled to immediate pleasure. The feeling wears off. I am not a rock star. I am a dirty, sweaty, middle-aged man in a suit, drowning in serotonin.
I keep swinging my pickaxe and finally I manage to curl up extra tight and jam myself into my carving. My time in this orifice is short and fragmented and not at all contemplative. My hosts take some pictures. My knees are pushing into my face. I watch blood drip down the side of my hand to my wrist. I am barely beneath the surface and the shards of flint are poking at my body like hungry teeth. A train rushes by and if you have a window seat you might see me here in the ground. Was that a man in a hole? Yes it was. Another exhausted man in a hole, trying for some kind of connection, some kind of earthly deliverance.