Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Rocks, Tongariro Crossing, Rocks

The other day I did the Tongariro Crossing, and because of the fine blue weather I could well see that it is a rock-filled place up there, a crumbling Stonehenge of a place. There are rocks like teeth, all kinds of teeth. There are bared teeth, dull white with gums of moss and black lines marking the gaps between the long white slabs. There are broken teeth, chipped and rotted with moss and gnashing upwards from the sides of hills. There are breathing mouths, mouths with no teeth but great steamy breaths instead, curling over the edges of cliffs and dissolving round the woollen socks of walkers; and there is a pair of open jaws as well, black inside and black teeth sticking down from a black cavern splattered with white as if with blood and yawning out of the crater-wall at the top of Ngaurohoe.Rocks like truffles on the flats, deep black and multifariously lumped. Rocks like coal, flat-faced, many-faced, sharp-edged, dully shining, and black too, the kind of black that looks as if it will make a charcoal mess on your hands if you so much as breath on it. Great heaps of truffles and coal gather on the hillsides like moss and gathering moss on their dark faces themselves. Rocks coloured like chalk, a rich colour as if the pigment goes all the way down, and arranged in mosaics on the sides of mountains, unmoving mandalas laid down so carelessly by the chemical rain of volcanos. A mosaic of red rocks, rusty on the mountain side like a great lichen dappling on the surface of the mountainside. Rocks with lichen dappling on their surface. Ordinary rocks. Ordinary, dusty-dirty rocks, cut-your-bare-feet toe-stubbers, slightly orange slightly yellow and good for crushing into shingle and holding down tents in the wind and not much else I should think. Rocks sliced in two, one slice missing and the other slice with a sharp-edged crater like half of a split marble. Rocks red as a red desert. Rocks white as bird-shit, black as flies, and the red-desert rock stains a rock-face with a bashed gramophone horn of smoke, with a layer of black-fly rock above it in the same shape, only more bashed, and bird-shit rock splattering the face under the red-desert gramophone as if the bottom line of the gramophone were leaking, with a line of white on the lower edge. From far away the whole thing, smoky bashed old desert, with a big tube in the hillside opened up like a windpipe with a gray crust on the outside and the red dust dripping round the inside and some stones falling out the lower edge, from far away the whole thing like an open wound, bright and free and weeping in the high air, and a crust of skin on either side untouching. On a plane as flat as a lake, rocks. Big rocks widely spaced, preoccupied as a herd of cows. Rocks like human faeces, elongated, rudely clumped, messy as a skinned sausage. Rocks like rabbit faeces, light brown in neat circles. Rocks like cattle faeces even, great cow-pats of lava folding down the slopes in great cow-pat layers, not so fresh as once before and cracking at the edges, cracking and splitting at the edges into little fiords. Layered rocks. Layers you can touch from the track, long and narrow and round at the edges like a pile of surfboards. Layers sweeping up in proud angles up on top of hills, prows and visors, and layers making terraces on the sides of other hills, greenish on the top faces and long low cliffs where one terrace drops down to the next. Layers in the rocks with orange lines in between, orange lines like cobwebs on the rock-face. Rivers of rocks. Thin creeks, widely spaced, fiddling down in clay lines from the tops of long ridges to the bottom where they disappear. Wide rivers of rock, orange rock and rock ground to black sand, sweeping down the hills in great highways of rock, widening quickly from a point like a highway seen from a low angle, and also stringy, tangled rivers of rock and mud, tangled hairs of light rock and gray rock running across the plane in dry rivers. Rocks like cemeteries. Black rocks the size of golfballs. White rocks the size of golfballs, seasoning the plain. Black rocks on the hills in shingle clusters. Rocks like wrecked cars up close, and shrinking to full-stops from a distance. Rocks really pebbles that line the green lakes, chemical-green lakes, with the rocks around the edges making a minute frill around the edges and the rocks in the border shallows showing up yellow-green and the shores of gray rocks on the beach like the dull crust around a precious stone you’ve found inside a dull rock and split the rock into ringed steaks. Large rocks on a hill like an old old building, a temple or fort that’s crumbled down now and left its founding stones broken on the top and the crumbs all scattered down the slopes, smaller the further down you go. Black rocks like an old old battleground, all charred limbs and heads and spotted with mossy blood and dripping too. Rocks light as wood, black volcano rocks that file down your boots and rasp away your shins. Rocks that stab your heel on their wheeling way down the mountain, a high mountain and conical and slightly concave and high, high so that from the top everything else looks flat, even the stretch we climbed up earlier and tore our lungs on the steep rocks there. Rocks that fill your pack so that you have a hard time sitting down and a harder time getting up, and rocks that push your pack into your head into the rock on the ground when you’re on a steep bit on all fours. Rocks that make their way into your knees and clash at awkward angles, grinding away down there and jolting out your legs at strange angles every now and then. Rocks from the sun that fall down in rays and deliver headaches from on high. Rocks in your legs and chest, so when you stop and undo your chest-strap there is a great release, an expansion and relaxation, as if you’ve undone your chest altogether and all your sweaty innards have slid out, relieved. Rocks in your pack so that when you take it off you are much too light, and your walk feels strangely out of time, too easy like peddling with the chain off. Rocks that fill your head with rocks. Rocks, rocks, rocks. I went and did the Crossing the other day, and it’s a rock-filled place up there, a crumbling Stonehenge of a place.