Marvin the megalith

Tank Green/ December 16, 2023/ Writing Walking

Photo of the megalithic burial site, Coldrum Long Barrow. Four large stones are in the shape of a rectangle, and there is a smaller one on a corner. In the distance is a field and then the Kent Downs. The sky is blue and mostly clear.

Photo of the megalithic burial site, Coldrum Long Barrow. Four large stones are in the shape of a rectangle, and there is a smaller one on a corner. In the distance is a field and then the Kent Downs. The sky is blue and mostly clear.

Marvin was a megalith, although you couldn’t tell him that. He was convinced he was a third century Buddhist nun. Rose and Veronica kept tying to tell him how unlikely that was, but he wasn’t having any of it. He was a nun and this was Tibet. It drove Rose and Veronica spare for centuries and it wasn’t until little Billy pointed out that maybe they’d want to take a leaf out of Pedro’s book and ignore Marvin’s fantasies, that the squabbles ended and they all got along.

Maybe it was because of his size and that he wasn’t technically a megalith, but little Billy had always been more flexible in his thinking. He enjoyed pretending he was a way stone for the stars. He liked to think that the sky beacons knew which way to move across the sky because they were oriented by him. Rose and Veronica grew some lichen and sighed: little Billy was as delusional as Marvin.

Marvin settled his root down into the earth. He was glad that Rose and Veronica had stopped arguing with him. He knew they’d come around to his point of view eventually, because how else were they to explain their stoic immovability? All around them change, whilst they had a perfect constant of being. He may not have legs, but he knew they were crossed, and so he went on concentrating on his breathing. Every now and then he asked a crow to come and check for excess moss, so that he could keep himself trim and shaven.

Probably this would have been easier if they weren’t hewn from the same cliff. Rose and Veronica (especially Veronica) felt that if Marvin was a third century Buddhist nun then this meant they were too, and they most certainly were not. Plus, they said, everyone knows that Buddhism didn’t reach Tibet until the sixth century. This is why Pedro mostly kept out of these discussions: he was west facing and enjoyed lazy (and private) daydreams of Euskal Herria. Even though he was young back then, he had vague memories of their travel to this place, so he didn’t see why they couldn’t have originated with the setting sun. Let Marvin have his dreams, thought Pedro, what silica off their edge was it to the rest of them?

Veronica’s calcium grated against some potassium and she forgot her resolve to ignore Marvin’s fantasies. For Mairu’s sake, she said, this plainly was not Tibet! And in what sense are you breathing, Marvin? Marvin ignored Veronica, pulled himself deep down into his belly, and concentrated on moving his quartz around in a circular motion. He had the feelings of tenderness and love today, and wanted to protect them at all costs. The next week he said, if we are stones who can think, why can’t we breathe?

Little Billy wiggled some bacteria either side of his ridge, and wondered what Rose and Veronica would say next. The two ladies eyed each other uneasily and admitted that Marvin had a point. Since they most definitely were self-aware stones, perhaps the issue was not that Marvin was delusional, but that when they settled down to their silences, Rose and Veronica were simply focussing on different things. It is true that, on windy days, Rose was certain she felt the giddy exhilaration of a horse. Steady now, said Veronica, give an inch, take a mile…

The truth is—as I am sure the geologists reading this story already know—that the reason Marvin thinks he is a third century nun in Tibet, is because he has looked at that eastward view for so long, and lovely though it is, he needed a change. As megaliths, and rocks more generally, exist solely in a meditative state, Marvin is simply engaging in a form of creative visualisation. He has looked east for so long, that his inner vision has penetrated as far as Tibet.

Another truth, dear reader, is that they are old stones, and they carry within them the touch of every pilgrim who has ever passed this place. They live out the gaze of the ancestors deep within their bowels. So when Jampo the proto-archeologist came in 1673 to inspect the megaliths of Coldrum Long Barrow, her gentle touch and focused enquiring gaze, gave Marvin the boost he needed. Every third atom, to the left of Jampo’s index finger, was a gift from her great great great (etc.) grandmother: a pioneering, and now long forgotten, Buddhist nun in third century Tibet.

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