From the root

by bjmuirhead

This photograph is from a couple of years ago, and although there isn’t a root in sight… ’tis metaphorical, as I am sure you understand.


From the root

I particularly like this photograph because everything in it, bar one piece of vegetation, is dead, and death is the most fascinating form of life that there is.

The first dead creature I remember seeing was a dog that had been crushed by a car. I was three, or thereabout. I don’t remember much else but the intense bright red of the blood coming from its mouth, congealing on the bitumen.

I don’t remember being shocked by the sight, or surprised, or any other emotion that I’ve heard people express and write when talking about similar experiences in their own childhood. I remember the red, the stillness, the white of its teeth.

This next photograph was taken not long after a road train had done its passing.

Kangaroo run over by truck

An inner road

The dog wasn’t the only animal cadaver I saw in my childhood, but it was formative of my visual and intellectual interests, as were the many human cadavers that began to litter my life around age fourteen. Death, for some reason, pursued me; or perhaps I was pursuing death as I walked around my city. (It always was while walking, and often I walked ten or more miles to get where I was going. I was far too energetic in those youthful days.)

It seemed that wherever I went there was someone killed in an accident, or by a heart attack—or something else. I often didn’t know what had caused the death.

I also managed to see innumerable people attacked, usually between eleven in the evening and two in the morning. These people were rarely badly hurt, but for one young policeman, in the mid-seventies, who thought he could handle one old drunk woman, who managed to stab him several times before she fled, leaving him bleeding on the footpath. I never found out if he died. I didn’t want to know. My friend and I continued to our destination, while his copper mates, who should have stopped him going over in the first place, rushed to his aid.

Perhaps there is some answer as to why, for a period of more than twenty years, I encountered four, five, six, or more cadavers a year; sometimes more. Many friends moved around as much as I did, but never saw the same things. In fact, several friends, age 58 and older, still have not seen a human corpse. One wonders how they could achieve such a thing. But…

Such is death.