Homework 2 – Scepter’d isle

This week’s MA homework was to pick any world nation, then pick a national monument, and have a character become lost in the vision of an ideal version of their country… then be brought back down to earth with a bump. I went a bit left field again.

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The house has a lonely grandness about it as it looms like a chalk cliff against the grey sky. A red, white and blue flag snaps loudly in the wind.

I tug my wool coat around me; but the chill penetrates my stocking clad legs. A man apologises in a southern drawl as he leans over me to take a photo. I wish I could wrap myself in his warm Tennessee vowels.

“Greatest nation on Earth,” Ernest says. He smiles like a schoolboy, and I’m irritated by him and the cold.

“I’ll tell you about nations,” I say. “Did you ever cross the Atlantic? We say we’re the masters of land and drop in our flags and erect buildings with great columns, but the sea! We cannot say we’re masters of such a wild mass. We cross her at her approval and if she wants she swallows us whole. She has cold black waters and not a glimmering of light beneath the surface, and darker things than our imagination gliding beneath us. This great land may have a star per state but the water nation has an army of cold stars blinking down!

We build great ships like floating cities but we’re just ants crossing her body. Waves dash madly across the ship to shower the occupants with salt like a purification rite, or a funeral, depending on her whim! She builds structures whiter and more imposing than if someone polished up the White House like a gem! Crossing her night is like gliding through death- and the dawn comes like the searchlight of a ship, to rescue us from drowning!”

A woman beside me snaps her gum. “Yeah- I loved Titanic, too.”