I am happy to say that the text of The White Heron Beneath the Reactor is complete and being proofread, and that Maxim has been going above-and-beyond with the artwork – something you can now judge for yourselves, as we are pleased to be sharing some images from the book and a short extract. Enjoy!
PART FIVE: THE WHITE HERON
Perhaps a hundred metres in the reserve, into RSPB Dungeness, I spot the white heron.
Pure white, visible even at a distance, statue-still and marmoreal among green reeds and sedge that flank the pools and watery gravel pits of the reserve.
In birdwatching I find the same impulse that drives my love of underground punk and hardcore, small press literature, droning noise, forgotten folk songs. A rarity is a rarity, regardless of what it means, though I know what the great white heron, my towering egret, means, it means the climate is changing, that the landscapes of the Britain, and the south-east and of Dungeness are warming and becoming more amenable to the bird; tall white signifier of Anthropocene days.
But look at the white heron, now that I have reached the hide and set up my telescope and opened hatches to watch the birds of the reserve, seated and discreet. It is so beautiful and poised, dignified and with grace. I spot one, two, then three. Around the giants’ legs carefully tread their smaller cousins, black beaked little egrets, and maybe there, yes, huddled on a tiny island, are a group of cattle egrets. The white herons remain motionless, like ancient statues on guard. They give nothing away.
Now the temptation is becoming unbearable: there’s some sort of allegory here, a point to be made, or there could be if we viewed the natural world as we do the human one, and most people do. They are fools for doing so. My white heron is not an immigrant, nor an expat, nor a citizen of the world. I will not let it support a political agenda, not even the one I wish to push.
The white heron is not a sign of our ties with the mainland, with Europe, with the continent. It is just a bird, standing in the water of the flooded pools of Dungeness. It won’t be there forever and its world doesn’t have borders.
From the hide, in the distance I can see the nuclear power station. I read that birds flourish in waters warmed by the nuclear power station’s outflow.
Spoonbills, too, pass through the reserve. Another white visitor, a passage migrant, begging to be interpreted.
Purity and the bogus notion of purity.
A background on which to lay a red cross.
Fear and blankness.
An empty map.
A white whale, an albatross, a Siberian tiger
The flesh of a dead thing.
The flash of the explosion .
Mingled feathers of a great white egret, little egret, spoonbill, cattle egret, arranged as elaborate headwear.