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Stone Tape Theory

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
The increasingly commercialised spooktastic Helagonfest (archaic name)  has come and gone this week leaving vestigia  in its wake: festoons of fake spider webs, legions of rotting pumpkins with lopsided grins, gutters arustle with sweet wrappers. Fun for the kids, though. The weirdest it ever got when my own two were young trick-or-treaters was at the big old house on the corner where, when the man answered the doorbell, he gave them a bible each. (They never rang that bell again.)
With my rational (if you haven't seen it, it doesn't exist) approach to all things ghostly, I suspect that ghouls, revenants, spirits of the night, zombies and other miasmic manifestations of the netherworld are just so many figments of the imagination, tall tales to be enjoyed as one temporarily suspends disbelief for the thrill of a scare.
Among many such fictions of vestigia (traces of things left over from a previous phase of existence) can be found the bonkers concept of stone tape theory. The idea is that, just as information can be recorded and stored on magnetic tape in a pattern of ferrous molecules and then converted back into sound and vision (who remembers the reel-to-reel machines, cassette and video recorders of our pre-digital age?), just so, highly-charged events from the past might have encoded their psychic energy into the molecular structure of  surrounding stone or brickwork, to be 'played back' centuries later by anyone gifted enough to be able to pick up and interpret the emanations. Complete bollocks, of course, but fun to speculate about.

Stone Tape Theory

What Tales Such Ancient Stones Might Tell

Consequently, I've co-opted the idea of stone tape theory as the bedrock for this week's latest vestigial offering from the imaginarium. (There is a back-story, the massive volcanic eruption of Ilopango in Central America, circa 450AD, but you don't need to know that to appreciate the poem.)
The Tell
Their Corn God was cruel that year,
wiped out the sun in his displeasure,
and needs must be appeased:
one treasured young Saxon life
paid down
against the very future of the tribe,
flaxen-haired, of waxen form
and shy of sixteen summers,
bound by hand and foot
and fate to die, a doll, a daughter,
a dutiful death.
These very rocks
registered the primal shock
as well the taint of spilled blood
the piss of fear,
a devastated family's tears.
It did no earthly good.
Reconstituted in a kinder time,
the jumbled masonry
within this wall can still vibrate
with powerful memories - the tell -
especially when baked all day long
by harvest sun, it's stone tape hum
decipherable by anyone
possessing atavistic sensibility.
Although dark glasses mask her face
and a scarf conceals her tresses,
see those slender shoulders shake
in silent seismic grief as fingers
make brief caressing contact
with hot hewn Celtic stone.
Eventually she lays
a plaited corn doll at its base,
though nothing can atone
for a black soul,
for what befell upon this spot.
Wrong place, wrong time,
no rewind
or erase function available.
Thanks for reading, S ;-) Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook


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