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Posts Tagged ‘city’

Tonight, I think of my younger self with eyes of endurance and focus, eyes wide and credulous. You take a handmade scroll and draw it open. For you, this evening is veiled in a fog of revelries. You tug at the gold ribbon, unwrap the printed paper. You’re reading and I’m by your side marvelling at my own work. I lose my cool though I probably never had it, or felt it once and took it held it watched it vanish again. What I don’t have within me by this age, I choose to lack. And you’re the final stranger.

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My thoughts leap from here to there. Happily, for relief, there are gossip magazines. I watch as you select an armful of brightly coloured publications telling you all that’s necessary about Cheryl, Jordan and Jennifer. I flick through one and say aloud, Sex Text Saga. You reply, Excuse me, reaching for one more. I scoff but here I am admiring the free shampoo offer with Glamour. I ask you about Tess and Vernon. And then real life walks in through the double doors and says, now then you two. There it is asking, Who is right and who is wrong?

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A stranger as a challenge. You are on the telephone but I need to communicate with you. A gesture, then. You ignore me. A wave. Can I pass, please? You avert your eyes. I lean over you to order my sandwich. I hear the tinny voice from your handset. Someone is crying. What I say is this: Don’t go. Or do go. Stay with him, or don’t. Eat well, or not. Settle in this country, or don’t. Be ridiculous, but sometimes don’t be. The only place from which you don’t have to come back from is the journey to yourself.

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I allow myself a little rudeness. You tell me about an event you’ve just seen and I look down at you – you’re small – and say, What? Then louder, WHAT? A writer, you inform me, and very good. I let my mouth open. A yawn? I think it is. Someone pushes past me. I swear at them, or at least mouth the words. Your wife praises the speaker she heard. She’s tall, hunches to hear us. I say, Uh instead of Pardon and roll my eyes. When we say goodbye, I am nice again. A real pleasure to meet you both.

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Floor plans cover the walls, ceiling and sofa. Standing against an open window, you’re shivering yet pleased: All in the name of art. This 1960’s housing estate is condemned, though you don’t know why. This building will be replaced, but you’re not sure what is. This building offers free furniture after 10pm, however you can’t be certain. I take your responses to mean that site-specific creativity in urban spaces does not automatically breed interest in the place. You wear several scarves and hold a walkie-talkie, I try again: You must be cold. You cheer up: Right, right yes I am.

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It’s Camden you need to get off at, I say to you when you ask. Your girlfriend is drunk and gazing blankly around the carriage. I like her for her aquamarine eyeliner and sun-bleached hair. You ask me questions and say you’re from Sydney. She is stressed,  briefly, because you’re late. I assure you that you’ll be fine for time, though I have no idea where you are heading. When we step off the tube, the ambition of your aim is infectious. I also speed towards the next train, desperate to meet my deadline of no time and doesn’t matter.

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You tell me it won’t hurt a bit. I perch on the examination table and roll up my sleeve. Tapping at my veins, you inadvertently drop everything on the floor. Scuffling near my feet, you pick up spare needles and containers while one hand keeps the point in my arm throughout. You ask me if I’ll return to work. I will, but not before I eat a pain au chocolate and gape at the blue sky. As I leave I think, don’t speak to me: if you wish me luck, I’ll take your words and throw them out the window.

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