Lucy Butler


Counting Silence

Counting Silence. Countering silence with conversation, of a kind: a daisy chain of non sequiturs, stems all bruised and weeping; they are each intent on some impossible reciprocity. He is that clichéd rock riff that still, resentedly, has the power to make her feel. Free? Free-er. Free-ish. Though she knows it’s not true. Not feeling is more of a cliché, these days, and avoiding obviousness is not necessarily the best strategy.

The heavy timbre of his voice felled in her ears, and she resists the temptation to read his statements against the grain. Who knows? He may just be the kind of person who speaks in great straight trunks of truth. Just because her mind-life is a circus of mixed metaphors, a menagerie of unholy hybrids. She is made up of fissures and flying things. She is. Enumerating stillness. Held together by perpetual surprise at the difficulty of things, surely the most obvious thing of all. Still there is weight to it, this flying, there is flesh to it, there is a belly dragging on the ground gathering its own gross information and feeding it through to the girl on reception who decides what it means and what, if anything, must be done about it. The vigilance of the receptionist is the only thing that prevents her from fading entirely into fleshy coils of feeling.

Perpetually addressing herself to someone so distant, a wizard behind a smokescreen face whose thoughts and feelings bear an uncanny resemblance to her own. Even face-to-face, he mostly happens in her head. The sigh is still beautiful. It is low and muddled today. It is beautiful but. As they say somewhere in Australia (count the space). If you have no feel for it, if you have no curiosity, well then you’re fucked. A dill pickle in the exhaust pipe, in the ear canal, and still this fruitless search for consolation. For free-association. My too-beautiful struck and plucked and picked and thrummed into a shimmering mess of musical metaphors.

But still there is flesh to it, better not forget that. And she is sitting on the beach, on a ledge of sand, watching the waves. She wouldn’t say waiting. And her heart isn’t aching, it’s more of an itch. Her hands, perched so long in anticipation, have come to resemble a craggy mountain range. Now see them slicing the water, racing one another out into the bay.



Lucy Butler completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne in 2009 which examines the mythology of romantic love in contemporary fiction. She has had work published in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. She now lives in Golden Bay, NZ, and is currently working on a novel.