I see the night coming silent as moonbeams, not across the face of the sea, nor along the haggard brows of mountains but closely, found in my thoughts of you. I see the star pausing at it's height, not above the birth of a saviour, nor pulsing, nor flowering at night time but starkly, among our withering faces. And I feel your heart friend, dearly, not in the memory of madnesses, nor quickly, not fleeting in fancy but fiercely, found in a furnace of dreams.
All his shifts being mornings and afternoons, with no nights included on the roster, winter was the only time he saw night sky at Swanwick station. The summers were daylight blazing even at half past five after his ride directly from the south. Not that direction matters more than the season but the repetition of his attending work mirrored the way the seasons turned, and as for direction, it could be said in truth, that he had none. None that is in any conventional sense. Ambition, career, hope were as strangers, but not the night sky, where direction had one clear purpose: to point towards the end of the universe and imagine our place within it, this blue ball bobbing like a buoy in an ocean of space. He'd heard of a US farmer who'd burnt down his farm to harvest the insurance and had spent the cash on a telescope. The farmer got a job at a country railroad station to spend his nights scanning and splitting the stars. So out he went and bought a telescope too to see if Orion's upright stance was more poetic than it's Midwest posture, recumbent at dawn. He climbed the bridge to be closer to the stars and holding his scope like a broom he swept the sky clear of the litter in his mind, seeking not an answer to what life is but to gain a feeble grasp on what it means to sit like this on a tiny speck of dust spinning silently and alone. One night he thought for a moment that he'd seen further than he ever knew you could. It may have been a trick of light, a platform lamp's rays caught in the current of his sight but, for a second, split like a star in a lens, he thought he spied right to the edge of time. For there, legs astride as his, head huddled over a glass, stood an apparition like himself, staring back, searching through space.
Small fish swim down stream from deep pools where they were hatched spawned a million times This small dish of rain shines like a plate of bright sun caught in flagrante Coal fires flame inside the belly of an engine rising to full steam Rails glint in moonlight frost covers up the edges of a cold platform Where the blackbird sings slow dawn slithers up to see who has breakfast first Foxes scream at night fearing us and attracting friends for company When you sleep my love dark night coils around your form keeping safe your heart In a tree house topped by green leaved branches bending in the wind you sit Full of praise for fun the small comedian laughed as he died of stage fright Pigeons sit above the heads of travellers splat by white spots of shit Where contention reigns sanity is not intact conflict batters peace Shoes that do not fit pinch the toes the insteps swell the feet start aching Drinking in a pub though costly and frowned upon socialises you A morning of rain before the grass can be cut an afternoon's rest That black dress you wore we were drinking in that bar your legs smooth and brown The sun on hot sand burned onto your feet as you ran into the sea The garden you dig deeper than the depth of soil grows from inside you
When his hair was long and his waist was slim, when the booze had not yet crackled his skin; when his eyes were clear, ideals still intact and trite cynicism was not yet a fact, she loved him.
It was never assumed we'd understand the bewildering things our young hearts dreamed of, the obscure and fabulous,tales told like secrets on a star starved night. Yet eventual clarity, we assumed, would arrive like children, a mortgage, the pattern of empty afternoons and death. We promised ourselves and waited for light. Remember when you spoke of ecstasy and pummelled my cheeks to show how urgent it feels, how meaning subverts itself in speech, the map of my purpling flesh showing the way? Well, still the taunts of the not understood tantalise; a seagull taking flight, the moon obscured by your shadow falling above me, our children's cries, the space between words where silence roars.
That summer's harvest bellowed apples bringing the trees almost to their knees, nearly felled by the pounding weight. We picked less than one-tenth the crop, fielding fallers too, their bruised flesh fizzing with self fermentation. We quartered the fruit with a crisp slash and they fell in the bucket like waning moons falling from an orange harvest sky. Sharp edged blades and water made the mash running through our fingers like a fresh spunk, pouring like cold lava to the press, oozing green under the screws caress, ejaculating the last liquid drops, leaving a stink of dehydrated flesh we threw in the compost as a slow boiling began it's self controlling buzz. Five days after sealing the lid it began bulging with the weight of gas, lifting with small sighs of apple breath. We saw the soft scum, spawn mould, apple brown, spewling and yeasty. Siphoning into jars intensified the ochre muck full of it's own sap. For weeks it stood quaking in the kitchen till a late, low sun clarified through it. By Christmas we would be quaffing it. And under the buoyant trees, fruit still pounded with fermentation's pulse, making a cider soil boozed worms crawled through.
"You've been here some years now. I remember your hair dark, how you were a younger man." "I've become rooted I suppose, manured in by a steady wage, that and just a mile from home, handy to see the children grow, plant and water shoots blossomed now away mulching makeshift gardens of their own. And you've changed too no doubt, although I cannot place, among the many passing here, your face". "Well, I only travel twice a year and sometimes less than that, according to the flow of things, how much I need to get away and other small dependencies. So what time do I get to Milton Keynes"? "When the stars fall and more grey dust is scattered here among the platform-edge high ferns."
Could stillness be converted into rhyme and age become a rhythmical address, with weight a simple synonym for time, darkness for that lacking emptiness, I could then do no more than wish my days encompassed by this eloquent repose, enabling me to contemplate the ways I might have chosen, and the way I chose.
When you have slept and I see you wake, your limp and lovely body lying there, my senses girdle up to undertake the prospect of your lemon scented hair. The picture of you dressing stirs me so that all my skin is somehow set alight; I see visions of the urgent to and fro partaken in the crevices of night. For there, in shadows, I could feel the heat the friction of our flesh materialised, with you above me reaching the complete abandonment of all we've rationalised. Then I, myself, awoke and daylight shone upon the empty truth, that you were gone.
I've been attending work for fifty years. I started slightly damp behind the ears. I've hardly changed from first to second gears. I've never been ambitious. I've seen the climbers jumping through the rings. I've never liked the bosses panderings. I've kept my counsel for the peace it brings. I've never been ambitious. I've spent my life not wanting to be seen. I've seen the signals change from red to green And back to red to stop what might have been. I've never been ambitious. The bosses come and go, pass through my sight. They've ranged from fearsome to the merely trite. To see the backs of them is my delight. I've never been ambitious. Ambition, I have seen, eats up the soul. Invisibility has been my goal. I aim to congregate where tapeworms shoal. I've never been.