The spoon whisperers

We require cutlery; we require a spoon smith. This is not something we like to acknowledge of course. We like to think that our spoon’s cradle of life is the cutlery drawer and beyond its mundane journey from there to our breakfast table no one likes to ponder where the spoon goes or why it suddenly ceases to be a part of our lives any longer. The spoon has gone to sleep, we tell the children, it has moved on to pastures new, to the great spoon caddy in the sky… but inwardly we shudder when our hand gropes the naked crevice of the empty wooden slot where the spoons once lived and when we hear the creak, creak, creaking of the spoon smith’s cart, after dark, we crack open the kitchen door just a chink and whisper ‘yes, dammit, yes we need spoons, for the love of life be quick about it’. Then for a little while we can breathe easy and forget and not bother to wonder, where the spoons all wander. 

 

You can see them yourself, every morning on the shore line, Dyson Blythe and his wife Birgitta and they are not by any means the only scavengers down there. Of course it is metal they gather up into those great ragged sacks of theirs, metal to melt down in that furnace they have at the cottage by the caves, metal to be poured into all those careful clay moulds, metal to be cooled into spoons that will hold our bottom of the garden stew and stir our hairy coffee. We try very hard not to notice the carcasses in various states of decay, the unidentifiable vegetable matter and all the strange and suspicious looking artefacts that also make their way into those great grey sacks because surely, surely, there is enough metal washed up upon a shoreline as extensive as this to meet the spoon demands of our small and un-extravagant populous.  

 

There was great joy when they first came, of course there was. We listened with curiosity and delight to the tappity-tap of metal on metal and the claret glow, night and day, from the windows of the little cottage by the caves spoke only of spoons that would soon fill our pantries and stir our cauldrons. We smiled when we passed them in the street or on the strand, their hands and arms were stained black to the elbows from their work at the forge, but we didn’t mind their oddness, amongst our own they hardly stood out at all and, besides, soon there would be spoons, and when the brightly painted cart, intricately carved with green and golden fleur-de-lis came tinkling down the high road with its bounty gleaming like twists of moonlight captured like candy in a cane, we knew only joy.

Of course there were some doubters who said the flier de los looked more like tentacles, who proclaimed the skills of the smithsonions unholy; their blackened hands a mark, not of their work, but of a pact with demons, still more who whispered that well meaning strangers would bring mishap upon us all. But it wasn’t until the twins were born that anyone gave their muttering a second thought.

Sebastopher and Tarrington Blythe were born on a Tuesday, ruddy and Bonny with full heads of bouncing copper curls like flame and their parents pressed into each chubby red hand a pair of beautiful silver spoons, the stock of their trade. So the boys lay in their cradles, tapping their silver spoons together and although they grew bigger and began to sit and crawl and, eventually to walk, still all they did was tap tap tap their spoons. Nothing could induce the boys to speak or play or to put the spoons down for even a moment but their parents did not worry overmuch, the skill each brother now had with his spoons meant that they could drum a multitude of meanings into their rhythms and Dyson and Birgitta grew extremely proud of their children’s inventiveness and skill as they lay awake at night listening to the twins conversing in their strange musical language.

And if occasionally they heard, from the dark beyond the yard outside, something drumming its own song in response, they must only have shook their heads and thought it merely the wind in the trees. And if occasionally they saw, through the chink in the curtains, soft glowing lights like rows of luminous eyes peering in from the night, they must have shrugged their shoulders and supposed it only foxfire or marsh gas. Such is the blind foolishness of every doting parent.

Nobody saw it happen. One late afternoon, creeping into evening with long green shadows under a sickly yellow sky, the four year old twins were sitting in the yard, under the twisted shade of the polymorphous rose tree. Their wide black eyes stared into the miasmatic gloaming and through the silence of their unspoken words their spoons rattled a furious rhythm, a cacophony which rang and echoed off the cave rocks that surrounded the little cottage. Rang and echoed off the cave rocks, and the trees and the hills for miles around and surely, surely, that was merely the echo of the children’s song and surely, surely, the lights that gathered that evening in the sliding fog around the cottage by the caves were merely foxfire and marsh gas.

Hard at work in the forge, their mother wiped the sweat from her brow, their father laid down his tongs and they listened to the silence that had opened like a gallows trap door. They ran into the yard, calling for their boys “Sebastopher! Tarrington!” But the yard and all the land around was silent. The lights, the spoons, the boys, the song, all gone, all gone.

Now the spoon cart comes only at night, we open the door, just a chink, just a crack, those are without doubt tentacles carved into the wood. We bolt the doors and fasten tight the shutters, that is no fox fire and marsh gas, that is not the wind in trees. And we always tell the children, “stop it, stop it at once, do not drum your spoon upon the table like that child,” because we do not like to think and we do not wish to know, where the spoons all go.

 

This word-magic is from the (frankly amazing) Lou Lou Pulford. (we are fans of her!) You can read more on her enchanting tea soaked, ententacled site- here.

 

Art by Tom Brown

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