Location: Iceland (2)

The mountains are gone today. That’s a lie: one is peeking out ever so slightly from the duvet it is swaddled by. Cloud isn’t a suitable name for them today: a bleached muscle would be much more apt. Duvet works because of the softness that they appear to have, but doesn’t express the toughness of appearance. Muscles tear but this makes them stronger, more menacing. What is covering the mountains is absolutely menacing. But beautiful. Like everything here. It also just blends into the sea. It reminds me of trying to carve up a chicken. You think that the whole thing will just fall apart in discrete parts. And things do slip apart it’s true – a leg will just slide straight out of the joint — but a bit of bone will follow it, or skin will linger where you don’t want it to, or it takes a bit of wiggling. It’s a parody of childbirth. It’s easier to dissect when raw. It’s an old hang up that things will get easier when heated, when energy is applied. That’s a human bias. But it doesn’t really get easier, it just seems less messy. We never got over inventing fire and it’s gone to our heads. I’m thinking of the protestant work ethic now: we think if we apply energy then things must go our way. A very human perspective despite evolving from religion. If this island was warmer would it be any easier to live here? I haven’t read anything that speaks of being lost of a frozen island, only ever a tropical one. Perhaps I would fall into a cliché and enact the tropes of that genre? That would be another very human thing to do. This island resists humanity.

*

I discovered something yesterday and forgot to mention it. It’s a wind-up clock, but it doesn’t work. I wound it up and set it to 11:20am, and its hands have remained in the same place since. And as I look out at the wall of cloud outside, throttling the mountains and making time impossible to map, I’m aware that time does act differently here. I have discovered, alongside the clock, how many hours there are in a day. But like the clock, there is very little to mark the passage of time. There’s a ticking, movement, yes, but without deadlines (now is when you have to go to that place, here’s when you should do that thing, and there’s no one else for me to set my body clock to) time doesn’t pass. It shuffles, quietly, so discreetly and slowly that you don’t even notice it. It’s the slow dribbling of blood through your subterranean veins. It’s mostly dark here, and you only get full daylight from about 12-4. Even then there’s a perpetual dimness to it, like a smudge of oil on a camera lens.  I’m going to go out now to make the most of the sun while it’s about. It is rare to see this island illuminated by anything that isn’t the swans. Daylight is a ceiling of fireflies, a fleeting moment where the need to continue existing reveals to much more than their motives. Fireflies, rare creatures in this and my home environment, are making me interested in everything but themselves. An evasive subject. So I shall leave and make the most of their presence. I feel terribly drowsy and the cold air will wake me up.

*

Managed a half an hour walk before a snowstorm hit: and I was not wearing my waterproof coat. So I returned, humbled by my own fear of most things. But I saw some cool things on my travels today. First off, the grass I mentioned yesterday has an uncanny resemblance to Donald Trump’s hair, something I hadn’t noticed yesterday because of the ice. It is wheaty, hardy, dry, and the wind has given it the same properties as a rug whose pile runs in one direction. There are tufts which create the crest of a wave, and surrounding them are the broken waves, forming hollows. Given enough force and time, the wind can make an ocean of anything. But this is a hardy, robust ocean. Like the rest of the island, it continues to exist due to a fierceness. Alongside the Trump grass, there is also tiny little ferns attempting to grow. One was stark white like a new shirt, and had the stumpy leaves that all enduring plants do. Grace isn’t compatible with survival. Grace is something which can only exist in a state of abundance. 

*

There is a large rock just north of the schoolhouse. It's the first ‘landmark’ of the natural order that I have seen. It's slightly taller than me. Maybe 5’7” or so. It's about 2.5x my width. I have no idea how it got there; it's not like there is a mountain close enough it could've dropped from. Perhaps it's a meteorite, an alien, descended to the Earth and then decided on this Island as it's home, as it knew this would make it conspicuous. It's a diva of a space rock. Maybe the lack of daylight makes it feel at home. It is looking forward to the time in 1 billion years, give or take, when it can become a traveller again, when the Earth is blasted apart by the near infinite heat of the sun in supernova. For now, this island reminds it of space: absence, coldness, darkness. Perhaps it is a baby’s breath too windy – space is an obelisk– but most conditions are the same. This island is a vacuum, and in it one feels the need to hold their breath.

*

There are two peg birds. I saw them flirting with each other. All the trees are dead so the poor things don't really have anywhere comfortable to roost. But spirits don't need anywhere comfortable to rest—like water in a glass they form the shape of the space they inhabit, nestled between our world and theirs, like the filament in a lightbulb: carrying tremendous heat to send a message, but more than comfortable with the burden. A tiny component twisted to contain the power of illumination. I wonder what brings them here? Perhaps they are like the swan, and their presence is for some functional purpose? Perhaps their calls—the nonlinguistic—are to help foreigners like me feel grounded. We both speak a language that is not very useful here. My isolation bind my tongue. Their call commands communication, regardless of whether someone is there to listen. They’re romantic-minded, these pegbirds.