Max is gazing through the eye of a squid. It is bright and soft with sea and also, now dead. Max breathes in and treads through the smell and says: smell. Then he says Pish. On the warm, white track through the sand dunes, he says: smell. There is no breeze there, he holds both hands out in front of him as though touching a delicate curtain of salt, seaweed and heat.
Noah and Max stand at knee height and note details from complex hectares of information. There is nothing that does not add value to the hour and a caravan park yields an astonishing harvest. Once, a boat engine, unseen, coughed seawater from its throat. Once, a small girl rinsed a set of textas at the rain water tank, the cement turned briefly purple. There is a strange bird that bites the air sharply, causing a brief pause in life everywhere. Once a monarch butterfly came into the tent and provoked anxiety. The air is full of taps and sunlight, hoses, glass bottles rattling empty melody in crates, tent pegs, buckets, low voices humming and humming, on the grass a lost child’s sandal with green tinsel tied to it. Max wanted the tinsel.
Each infant begins on a startled intake of breath, a raised hand pointing to eternity and an eye contact with anyone to ensure collaboration. It is possible sometimes to pull out a word. Once, a baby cried somewhere and Max said: cup. When their own baby (Finn) cried, Noah said: no.
But when sea water churns coldly through sand barriers and chokes up small legs and moves the entire surface of the earth sideways without stopping there are no words yet to fit over the blend of terror and radiance and hold it still. They can only look at each other’s faces and read its diabolical intensity there.