It was never a question of beauty but something else. Mind for example. For a long time you had no dress of your own, except those your mother had her servant make. D– could sew with hair-fine needles, pleats and Peter Pan collars. She could make anything look timeless. Writing was sewing. Writing was taking an image – a ferry crossing the Mekong say, and empty it of all significance until it became idea, an image caught between memory and forgetting. That place-marker for time that never existed. The Mekong – that blood in the body, that slow flow between banks that had faded away. The river carries everything along, straw huts, forests, burnt-out fires, dead birds, dead dogs, drowned tigers and buffaloes, drowned men, bait, islands of water hyacinths all stuck together. Everything flows towards the Pacific, no time for anything to sink, all is swept along by the deep and headlong storm of the inner current, suspended on the surface of the river's strength. History again, locked in the depths of your flesh. And like a new-born child, it was blind, or so it seemed to the ungainly, the women from elsewhere, the mothers and the sons, mute and cowed in the presence of the father. And it was blind.
Adam Aitken: Lines from The Lover
1 October 2008