Shade shelters shade –
The poor man’s grave –
Only shadow and sapling
Marbles markers mark –
Luxe lives of moneyed men;
Who died surrounded and alone.
Time turns –
To dirtied marble
Masked with mud.
Sapling to keeper –
For the rootless
A joyful light is lit
Life lends time –
To mortal shadows
Darkness weeps when
Death collects the debt…
Dead dendron decked
Dedicated to past dying –
Scratch symbols of serenity –
Into my bones with glass.
Take me where I have been
So many times before
For familiarities’ sake
Where sky meets sky
And birds fly in pairs…
Stained bones break-
Decrying the cold call of dawn
Decaying any semblance of sincerity
Of debt-collectors who deal in death-
Fashion for me
My own eternity,
Composed of time
Distilled in its own quiddity
So that I may think without
The distraction of death.
Black sight set in grey light –
Piercing shadow, silent keeper
Of all ways right – perched atop
The bent beech, death’s riddle.
Look! The dearly has departed
With neither flap nor flutter…
Death demands respect-
Existing only to take away existences
Living only to take life.
Inherited, passed down
Unwanted child of all.
We try to ignore death and live
As long as we can grasp
To the frail fabric of own mortality…
We have grown accustomed to death-
No more is it glory, honour
We blank it out like a bad memory-
It’s true potency hidden forevermore…
When I say everything stopped, I include myself. I did not gain superhuman strength or sudden speed, but rather I was frozen, locked in pace. In that moment, though, I could see a way to save her. I saw that inevitable need not be so inevitable and that the non-existent enemy that she had looked out upon just moments before was not as intangible as I had initially thought.
So as time gradually began again, like a child awakening from sleep and as I plunged forward into the humid air, stretching out my hand to grab from her certain death, I slipped. So in saving her, I had secured my own grapple with death.
Some people who have been to the edge of death and returned say they see a white light at the end of tunnel in that moment.
Doctors would tell you that it is cause by random synapses in the brain firing, the mind’s desperate way of trying to stay alive, whereas others would insist that it’s the entrance to heaven.
So did a see a light before my seemingly certain, untimely death?
No, I saw two blinding lights, a train and the shocked pale face of the train driver frantically trying to brake.
I’ve always thought of train stations as a sort of no-man’s land, a commuters purgatory, neither here nor there- just waiting.
If that was true, where would I wake?
My first thought upon waking was that there was no suitable metaphor for being hit by train. Being hit by a train was like being hit by a train. I had no time to experience anything but that lone thought. I saw no sight, I experienced no smell, no feelings, I experienced nothing. I simply fell back into unconscious, dreamless oblivion…
My next awakening was not so abstract. I could not the light of my mind, but rather, I woke to the piercing light of day in which I lay helpless.
I remember waiting for a train. No particular train, just one that would take me away. This story covers, at least at first, 20 minutes of my life, and let’s face it, that’s all that was left at that point. I’ve always thought of train stations as a sort of no-man’s land, a commuters purgatory, neither here nor there- just waiting.
There were a few standing there that day.
There was a young man, probably a student, in a plum hoody. He had bags under his black-grey eyes, tired from late night study, or more likely, late night drink. Then there was a washed-out woman, who was clearly on some sort of narcotic. She had burnt brown eyes, long greying chestnut hair and bare feet which were callus and cold. She was wearing an ankle-length floral dress with a frayed hem, a cheap rubbery watch that had stopped on 2 o’clock and some faded wooden, multicoloured beads around her neck. She looked like a hippy or hadn’t been told the sixties were over.
The only other person on the platform was a young woman. She was the personification of isolation, stood away from the others, her wide primal-like eyes glaring out at some non-existent enemy. The ancient romans said that the eyes were the gateway to the soul, looking at her I could understand why. I only remember her glare and her eyes.
Then there was me. If you had been there, you would have seen a young man with sharp, crisp blue eyes, eyes at contrast with the dull day. You would have seen my scruffy brown hair and the jeans and wearily witty t-shirt that I always wore.
At that moment, I was stood against the wall of the station with the withered hippy and the student to my right and the isolated girl to my left.
I could hear the train before anyone else, it imminent arrival signalling my imminent departure. A few seconds later, with the train now becoming visible, the 3 strangers,stragglers really, each teetering the edge of their own realities and whom I was stood by, each stepped forward anticipating the train’s arrival.
The young woman stepped forward further than the rest, her heels off the ground and the toes of her worn, once white trainers touching the faded, chipped yellow paint spelling out the barely readable words “MIND THE GAP”. The look in her eyes indicated that she liked to tempt death, but who would rather that death not succumb to such temptations. Unfortunately for her, death would not resist the apple she had so kindly place before him or her that day (for death could so easily be a woman, in fact I strongly suspect it).
Time slows down near the edge of a black hole, a dying stars way of forgoing inevitable oblivion. So it was, in a similar manner, that as the train, which was coming in from the left faster than it should have been, the would-be temptress of death slipped near the edge of the station and as she was falling back ward in a twisted awkward pose, straight into the path of a speeding train- everything stopped…