High and Dry

"I write under your threat."
"If I could do anything to stop it, I would do that thing. Or perhaps the desire itself, the pain
of it, has a value, is an emblem."
"My life on the ship continues," she wrote, "though we have long ago arrived."
"There is no question of it. There is no going there, no there to go to. As much as it seemed
to exist in the past, it did not. There is no substance to it in the present. No steady horizon.
But it was the overcoming of mere fact that was always at the heart of us. This being false to
oneself or true. It is impossible to tell, to resolve, or to forget."
The landscape looked both naked and hidden. She could see it rise up over her and reveal
itself and yet had no idea what the mountains were called, what had caused this great
incursion of water, or how far it went. It might go very far.
Mary continued to fight a war that had been lost. She trusted the wrong men. She allowed
her view of the world to be skewed by them.
Elizabeth wrote letters. She wrote laws. She wrote on her clothes, on the walls. She argued
in Latin. She danced in Italian. She vanquished the Spanish, massacred the Irish. She pros-
pered and expanded, but, in body, shrank, eating small irregular portions while her

courtiers consumed the world.
We talked about elements, the elements of the situation, the story, the material. Mary would
describe the world and I would redescribe it. She would agree silently, only to add a word
which changed everything.
Mary was direct. Her directness was compromised by her need to hide her motives. She
never admitted her part in the betrayal even to herself. "She has used me ill," she was able
to say at the end.
And so I continued to languish there, land in sight, but not on land. Writing and reading my
book. It was about the past and yet also seemed to be producing the state that I was in,
insofar as I was anywhere.

Laura Moriarty

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