Investigating the life of things across space and time

Black Lie

For I am Black Lie and I purr rumbling low.

Drawings and etchings by Sarah Gillett
Text by Amy Lay-Pettifer

For I am Black Lie and I purr rumbling low. I growl hard when you touch me and when you retreat. I walk softly and I am to be followed.

I like the low night and the warm to curl in. I am lazy and would sleep longer but for the dark games and hiding tricks that keep me awake.

There is play and leisure and there is the forest – I can grow nothing and I build nothing but I watch as things unfurl and the canopy becomes more majestic. Aching flower buds blossom as I do. I recline and yawn at the moon, the soft heads of others lean at my thighs and ankles, breathing in the warm mist that coats our skin and clings to us. I sigh picking the gold from beneath my fingernails. Things beat about me, mostly heads and hearts and the forest floor. I press my ear to it, I raise and ready myself, I pant.

By the edge of the water I deal in reflections. Light skims the surface and while others drink and swim I kneel and throw posture and pose towards the river, where all eyes beneath and behind are upon me. If I had known how to laugh, that laugh would have shaken rubble from the hills and feathers like leaves from the height of the forest. The arch of my back catches both the water and the radiant heat of watching eyes and soon enough they move towards me, tired suddenly of idle pursuits. Abandoning thirsts lapping and dry, their rough tongues make for the length of my shoulder blades, I smile and shimmer still on the surface of the water as the light falls lower.

For day after day I returned, my statuesque or burlesque gathering pace. In afternoons some daring dance drew crowds, some soaring song encores, each rifting tale hushes. I am not inclined to be alone. I was born among many and that is how I live. As a child I remember watching feral fights in dusty clearings. We circled and encircled and drew out our journey to this heavy cataclysm of stars, moon and terror of things not known. Anger and territory fearlessly guarded in ever decreasing loops. The snarl of the beast so hungrily watched and goaded by those gathered. I envied even the defeated wretch its audience and now I inhabit that clearing, with my own delicate battle.

I am adored.                                                                            


Yesterday for the love of him I tore the flesh from a scruff neck and a limb from a limb. I raged in jealousy and beat my breast to see distinct forms, contours and curves so tenderly committed to my memory, entwined as I once was. The treachery in the tree stems that shielded their motion so pitifully. As if I wouldn’t see and know and smell it hanging, dense and dark and raven in the air. I sloped and railed with my new sadness into the nearest clutch of forest. I admit that I wept and that this salt and sorrow mingled with the blood and slaver that hung from my open jaw. I felt suddenly that the shape and strength had gone from me – I retreated skittish and silent. I allowed the days to pass, some made move to draw near to me. Some extended tenderly in my direction, towards the swollen heart of my glum, but suffered the weight of my hand and the sharp glimmer of my nails against their cheeks.

As the dawn came I fixed my eyes again on the clearing and the water and on the mountain edged trees. I allowed myself to stretch again, I watched from the distance as others compared the scars I had given them and whispered their own new myths that has begun to drift from the tall vines that covered me as I hid. I licked the backs of my hands; I rubbed the blood and the dirt from my skin.

For I am Black Lie. I am aware of things about to happen but then I do not think long on things just gone. When I am done with you, I am done with you.

Gallery of Black Lie works

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