Two buzzards circling,
Spread-winged, eagle-eyed, in freedom flight,
spring soaring. Roaring by
Gone now in a flash, the bat of an eye, the beat of my heart,
the train speeds on and life flashes by.
This journey wears a groove in my life, deeper it cuts each time I say
“Return to London, please”
No Madame Tussauds, No Big Ben, No all singin’ all dancin’ West End Musical.
No all-seeing London eye. No, not for me.
What would it spy if it gazed my way,
something beginning with c?
Or a scan here, a blood test there, just a scratch, biopsies galore, are you seeing the pharmacist today? Well, I won’t beat around the bush, Disappointing, not what we’d hoped.
Well, it’s not what I hoped to be pumped full of drugs, or radiation, or chemicals.
Not what I’d hoped at all. Just saying.
Passing by familiar landmarks, at speed.
The station where you used to meet me, and leave me. Hello, goodbye. hello. goodbye.
Happy, sad, happy, sad.
Pat and Jim’s. But no one’s home. No one’s waving, not today.
Field after field. Tree after tree. House after house. Allotments. Gardens. Trampolines. Toys. Washing. A thousand lives passed by in a flash.
And are gone.
A thousand stories, a thousand tears and a thousand reasons to be joyful.
Lambs, birds, rabbits, sometimes if I’m lucky, a deer.
This green and pleasant land is testament to the mastery of the mystery.
And onwards we rush, destination – cancer,
Do NOT pass Go.
Do NOT collect £200.
And, I’m terribly sorry , but your get-out-of-jail-free card has, regrettably, expired*.
(*Which, conversely, is something I am doing my utmost NOT to do.)
Past the airport. A plane landing overhead touching down just yards from the train tracks.
Last year, that was me.
That was then.
And Before, is a very different country from Now.
Now, is a land post-apocalypse, post-invasion, where anarchy and chaos preside. Where fear and grief and anger are on the daily menu.
Three courses for £12.95. Bargain.
Now, does not always feel like a safe place to live.
I declare myself a refugee from Now. I want a holiday from my life. Time out. A sabbatical. At least let me get off the ****ing train.
For here, in Now, the ground shifts beneath your feet. The waves close in over your head. You are falling from a high cliff, and a hand reaches down to help you, yet you – just- can’t- quite -reach. You shout and shout until your throat is raw, but no one can hear. You try to dial 999 but your fingers are jelly and your phone just won’t work.
That’s what Now feels like.
And then, there it was.
Large as life, and incongruous as hell.
In the doorway of a warehouse
On the crinkled, edges of Croydon
a fish out of water, metaphorically speaking,
seven and a half feet
(And, please look away now if you are vegan – )
deceased and stuffed.
Now, I’m not suggesting the sight of a stuffed polar bear on the streets of Croydon, or in fact any suburban town gives me any pleasure at all. But, I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t, just for a sliver of time, make me smile at the unexpected absurdity of this urban arctic vision.
Whatever journey we are on, if we remember to look out of the windows with an open mind, and an open heart we may see the unexpected, we may experience the unimagined, we may taste the impossible, and we might live in the wisdom that life has a way of showing us a little breath of magic, a glimmer, a chuckle.
Don’t close your eyes, for the beauty is all around, in nature, in friends, loved ones, strangers, and in polar bears.
Two buzzards circling
I spread my wings,
And now we are three.