Poetic text from Spinstren

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The Spinning Top Texts

Writing Tops These were tops wise in languages. They were tall, with only a whisper of roundness. They had to be spun quickly to whip up enough energy for them to write. At this speed they would write a rapid writing with their turning tip; scriptures of immediacy, hot with presence. Their inks would never dry, and like mercury would bubble off the page a few minutes after being read.

Play the Writing Tops

Grieving Tops During the weeks of grieving, the Spinstren kept special tops spinning continuously. The waking tops were administered only by those who had witnessed the intricacies of their power, and knew what should be kept burning in their bells. Such tops could be spun for twenty minutes at a time, and their strange hollow sound and airs, brought a gently moving comfort to those who were letting go.

Play the Grieving Tops

Ice Tops The ice tops were spun to dislodge certain kinds of bitterness. They were brittle, brilliant and violently short-lived. Sometimes they shattered at the shrillness of their own sound. Spun quickly during frost, the ice tops shocked a shift in holding patterns, so that griefs kept nurtured for half a lifetime, might briefly intensify, forming into a shrill scream, before thawing into a few drops of water moving in trails down a quiet face.

Play the Ice Tops

Conceiving Tops These were tops of possibility spun on the belly of a woman hoping to become pregnant. They were orange or dark green, and smelt of earth. They invited souls to come into the world; a clearer invitation than sometimes nervous parents were able to muster. They brought calmness and a grammar of lovemaking in the present tense.

Play the Conceiving Tops

Birthing Tops The Spinstren were busy during birthing. Trays of birth amulets were brought out. Unlike the others, birth tops were rotund and span slowly. Three of them removed the heavy tops, whilst the others gathered threshold herbs. As the tops turned, spinning airs drew the chamomile mixture around the fierce waves of birthing; ribbons of ease amongst the sweat of beginning.

Play the Birthing Tops

Heart Tops The heart tops were palest pink and warm to the touch. They were used by the Spinstren to bring the heat of love to those whom joy had somehow left. Kept in pairs in oval boxes, the heart tops could only be used by Spinstren who were themselves in the heat of love. The tops had to be spun at the same time, one in each hand. Spinning together in the breeze of love the heart tops turned in double air. This was a beautiful thing to behold – they gathered speed and deepened their colour, until they shone a brilliant red and released a scarlet air that smelt of freesias. This red mist caused blood to flow more boldly, risks of the heart to be taken, and love to be a possibility.

Play the Heart Tops

Other Texts

Damask Carla’s cheeks flush a damask almost-red. When she reaches the cottage she’s sweating in the space between her breasts.

Distaff She told me that if I bathed the distaff with blood, strange alchemies would come upon me. She told me that if I span and pricked my finger, I could exchange blood for knowledge. She told me this gently, holding me close to her.

Purple Pink Strange purple pink sea lichen lines the pools left on the rocks, and in them, delicate feather weeds move in the heartbeat of the ocean.

Almost Sounds They were calling her. She could hear it in her deep sleep. Gentle almost- sounds, in harmony.

Sleeping Beauty Anchor You’re beautiful when you sleep.

Beyond Out in the hinterlands things are different. Out beyond the rocks, beyond the birds, beyond the waves – even beyond the blackness of the lighthouse on its island, and its red wink. Beyond all that. Beyond the patina of living things. Beyond terrified bunnies sprinting, arse bouncing skywards. Beyond sheep and soot and ordinary things. Beyond rain in the afternoon. Beyond wet blackberries and aching sloes. Beyond rocks, purple and otherwise. Beyond sea-ridden plastic and other ocean ephemera. Beyond moving clouds. Beyond wind and hawks and all the seabirds she doesn’t know the name of. Beyond lichen and beach herbs, she also doesn’t know the name of. Beyond fingers picking up driftwood kindling. Beyond the hundreds of strange blue jellyfish that landed here in August. Beyond coldness. Beyond tripping on the rocks and looking into the hole in her leg. Beyond swimming in the cold sea to stop it from bleeding. Beyond lobster pots and carrageen and falling sheep. Beyond twilight. Beyond all tides. Beyond weeping and singing out to sea. Beyond fishing boats and passenger ferries and cargo ships. Beyond caravans. Beyond erosion. Beyond the smooth grey armchair rock at the head of the swimming beach. Beyond dancing. Beyond any photograph. Beyond unsteadiness. Beyond all this. Beyond. Beyond.


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