drowning the clock

by uzwi

Every other night between midnight & three, I take my hard drives to the river. I turn right out of the house, then immediately right again, past magnolia, past wisteria. Barnes is empty. Maybe there are a few high clouds. A bit of moon the texture of fish skin. Maybe it’s snowing on a raw wind. Maybe the wind is blowing up from the river along Cleveland Gardens; maybe down towards it. Maybe it’s an August night, soft warm air more like Valencia than London. Anyway, walking is easy. It’s like a kind of floating, at least until the river front, the station, the dark brick heel of the bridge. There’s always a little urgency then. The situation’s not unpleasant, but it’s no longer a trance. Every other night, in the centre of Barnes bridge, facing downstream along Corney Reach to Chiswick Eyot, I take the hard drives out of my pocket & line them up carefully on the parapet. Sometimes I push them over with one finger; sometimes I throw them out over the water suddenly & with the most violent body language. Whatever. It’s essential they’re still intact. It’s essential they enter the river undamaged; that they’re carried along by a falling tide; that they sink slowly; that they become over many years eroded, corroded, buried in the deepest parts of the channel. It’s essential they never be found. Essential, too, that the data remains for as long as it can; but also that it can be understood from this moment as dissolving, or as being etched away, liberated from the prison of its encodement. Whatever it was before it passed from my life into words, becoming bound, I imagine it now etched & dissolved away forever, leaving behind, in ten years or two hundred, only some unreadable, cakey, wafery, fossil combination of rust & mud. As soon as I have imagined that, I’m released to make my way home. It’s four minutes on a nice night.