Travelling by night through a foreign landscape, mountainous terrain straddling states, traffic thin, occasional headlights crisscrossing like old wartime searchlights on my winding road, I park, walk towards a bridge to shift my mood. I shall chronicle this blur of absence, a silenced bell’s echo, memories of night music, betrayal, dreams of happiness. Calligraphic words wreaths on paper. A great distance separating me from home, thunder’s orchestration greets me as if cued.
Lightning like faulty neon illuminates oily water purling below, reflects on stonework, reminding me of Rodin’s looming rough studies. Then the appropriateness of rain. I smell decades in stone. My floating face, a drowned spectre, is obliterated by a fusillade of raindrops. What relics of hope, taste of grief, life’s detritus, lies behind that image? Everyone knows travel can be a form of running away.
I think of revealed bog bodies when a strange rasping wind as if out of the stilled past rushes in, a scuttling across Eliot’s floors of silent seas. Hunching away to a cold, emptied marketplace, my footfalls follow centuries of spoors faded forever. Those memorising bad news have crossed that bridge’s curve, endured, moved on with their dogs, walking the night, leaving no message, incantations now silenced.
No future aged scene where you count my pills,
no marriage bed thrum, giddy days all done,
a melancholic outline of pale hills
witness en route to Courtroom Number One.
We know to expect a normal routine,
no selfish custodial tug-of-war,
no respect for grave vows, what might have been.
Awkward, absurd, we smile, look at the floor,
platitudes inch from tongues, the judge seems bored,
dust motes drift in slant light, hopes gone awry.
Then recall, you young, unbuttoned, adored,
this contrast, paralysis, as dreams die.
We sign papers, shared polite pen trembling.
It’s over, all our wanton dissembling.