Symptoms of the Subterranean


By Suzanne Walsh.

I’m sick again, and so my world shrinks to the boundaries of the house, sometimes to the bedroom walls or the soft edges of the bed. The living room feels remote, but when I’m a little stronger it become safe territory again. The outside world is still too brash, too bright, in its distance. Better to be laying grey and quiet on a couch instead, supine and still, awaiting the possibility of restoration. Out there, like some stronger strand of the same species, the healthy attend events, shop, talk, drive, walk. I look down at them, from my remote exiled state, like a vulture that longs to feast on their vitality.

Outside on the street, feral cats crawl along by bins, on their bellies under windows, emerge oil-tinted from under cars, materialise from behind withered hedges. They’ve come to hunt out food, sometimes left by neighbours or myself. A small tortoiseshell becomes a favourite, I map her movements from my window, she has a lithe grace, an open face. I know it’s a she, for tortoiseshells usually are, the mutation caused by the processes of domestication, just as ginger cats are usually male. On rare occasions this tendency exchanges places, and so becomes a mutation of mutations.

She’s there today, climbing down from a brown bin in the cold sunlight, followed by two tomcats. One is black and white with an opportunistic swagger, and the other is ginger with weepy eyes and a muscular frame. She rolls on the pavement, tracing sinuous snake-like curls, an invitation not yet fully formed, watched by the two males, like a dance they’ve momentarily forgotten the steps to. Not for long though, they are rapidly remembering and awaiting their cue.

My body stirs itself reluctantly, not yet awake, although I will it. However the body wins this round, dragging the mind back down to its subterranean world. It’s no wonder a comatose state is described as vegetative, when underground, root systems of thoughts, like fungi, spread their fetid thoughts. A dull unthinking body, body as soil, the mind as too-weak shoots poking through, drowsy on light and nutrients. Perhaps something is growing down there, seeds, rhizomes, roots, shoots.


[This is a short extract, the full article is available to read in Issue Four]

Suzanne Walsh is an artist, musician and writer from Wexford, living mostly in Dublin. She studied visual art and critical writing in NCAD and her work is mostly text and sound driven, often in the form of spoken word, writing, recordings and performances. She is an editor on the occasional creative art criticism journal, Critical Bastards.