So writes Leon-Battista Mondaal when he reconstructs the events that have led him to lie, bound as a madman, in Mackenzie marketplace. His narrative moves backwards and forwards in time, to his boyhood and first visionary glimpses; the day he and two thousand souls are swept away in the flood that inundates the Guyanese coastline; and the day when, rescued by Amalivacar, the Amerindian god, he recovers his memory.
At the heart of Mondaal’s narrative lie his relationships with Jacob Laban, the patriarchal leader of the ethnographic team studying the Christmas Eve masquerade at Manchester village, and Elizabeth-Eberhart, the Amerindian aviator and agronomist on the team who, inspired by her memory of a childhood encounter with the River Fairmaid, shares with Mondaal her vision of ‘kinship with species of being other than our own.’
It is the failure of his half-hearted rebellion against Laban that drives Mondaal to write his narrative as an act of restitution, aided by the timehr, the painted child of Amerindian legend, who prompts him to the importance of recovering those whose ‘ways of living are dark-sided in the shadow/composite of history’s giants’.
Poetry, high comedy, science fiction, Amerindian and Celtic myth are woven in this ‘covenant between the biblical, the nation state and the immigrated space’. The Timehrian questions the reality of all monolithic historical lineages, all received framing devices, for as Mondaal asks, challenging Laban’s closed, functional interpretation of the Christmas Eve masquerade, ‘have we not happened upon their gestures mid-way in a larger, unseen composition?’
Andrew Jefferson-Miles is a poet and artist.