THE OUTLANDS - we watch them going in a bubble of breath held -


Francesco Kulla approaches the lighthouse. Its white crystal eye marks a termination of his journey. And the other, the ruby eye, object of his devotion, was the sign that he should first depart. He has been on the road for years, perhaps decades. In any event, when he tells it, he will exaggerate. Proceeding step by step, always in the same dirt‐black suit, always barefoot. Now with a baseball cap, pilfered, its caption: ‘Can I buy you a drink or do you just want the cash?’ Soiled, his hair beneath it, the same. Without shoes but with head protected. The dissymmetry pleases Kulla. It will give his body a forward momentum demanding no hesitation, one foot and then the next. And he sings.

…The longest train he ever did ride,
Was a hundred coaches long.
The only man he ever did love,
Is on that train and gone…

Kulla knows the colours. He knows the crystal. He carries it with him in his left trouser pocket. A treasured object. His fingers move across its surface. Ruby red eyes have brought him to the road. (But who’s going to shoe Kulla’s pretty little foot? Who’s going to glove his hand?) Kulla knows the crystalliferious earth. He knows the fertile grounds. Brother’s going to shoe Kulla’s pretty little foot. Brother’s gonna glove his hand…

Fransceso Kulla. Kiss his ruby red lips.

Kulla has never seen the sea.

Climbing the stairs to the lighthouse Kulla reaches the platform. There is a vantage point from which he can see the waves breaking against the cliff below, the foam and the ocean’s swell marking its force on the rock. The lighthouse’s faceted window allows him to see an interior into which there is provided no access. At the centre, a lamp and its prisms. Two pains in the window have been replaced with a glass tinted turquoise. He imagines the beam split, a division within the spread of its rays, sits for a moment, hangs his arms over the balustrade, squints at the horizon. The sun blinks on the water. Kulla rests. His feet carry the dirt of innumerable countries. He inhales. The air tastes different. And as he closes his eyes, the ruby red eyes of Christ are the eyes of sea‐birds, are the eyes of the sun and of the moon, are the eyes of his father, and the eyes of the land, the soil, the dust, the molecular‐eye; this crystalliferous aspect.

Kulla leans back and opens his eyes to the autumn sky – these squinting human eyes. The sun reflects in the crystal cylinder of the lighthouse. Kulla counts the steps of the sun; immerses himself in the sun’s play on the water. His thoughts canter on the rhythms of light. A momentary lapse in consciousness, but he is alerted, and resurfaces.

Letting his gaze wander, there is another lighthouse, a beacon, situated amongst the cliffs at the water’s edge. It too catches rays and sends them refracted through the rays of the other. Interplay. No shadows, only light. Light cutting across the sky, light turning the surface of the water into a plane of infinite variation. Light rendering the universe rhythmical.

He remains on the platform for a moment, hypnotised, counts the sun’s descending steps, observes the water: its surface; trying to grasp the nature of the shifting interactions of light. And his attention is drawn to another part of the vista before him. Some yards out to sea, beyond the cliff, piercing the water a ridge of rock, perfectly round, visible only when the ocean’s swell recedes. The water contained within this circular frame forms a pond. A pond in the sea. And for a moment, between the waves, a still surface is revealed – infinitely thin, perfectly blank: mirror in the ocean. With all the attentiveness he can muster, before the next wave, Francesco studies this sight that seems to confound the ocean’s fluid mechanics. And he watches the waves’ cycle repeat, alternating his attention from one part to another all the better to grasp the whole that will not give itself to the eye’s instantaneous apperception.

Allowing himself now to relax, he employs his vision’s own rhythmical sensation – no analysis; no reasoning. The light emanating from the crystal cylinders of the two beacons is reflected in the pond in the sea. And beneath the play of lights across its surface, bland and still, a fractured mirror image of the landscape appears. This abundance of fractal universes. Kulla looks up at the sky. The dull circle of his
thoughts: either the images are distributed by the two crystal beacons – cast across distances onto the mirror surface of the pond – or the images are somehow contained by it, disseminated from it.

Francesco Kulla knows well the ruby red eyes that had made him flee in joy, abandoning the confines of a domestic life; that had brought him to the land’s end and to this crystal eye submerged in water; microscopic layers constituting the corneas of the optical mechanism of crystal cylinders in a twisted, acrobatic anatomy.

As he descends the steps to make his way towards the beach, something still puzzles Kulla: a question, the answer to which might be his destiny. But his thirst rises and he is lost again to the crystalline ocean.

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