Wednesday, 9 September 2009

She was a friend of mine

She stopped me in the road. Caught my attention. I stopped, straightened up from where I was bent over. Turned. Looked. There was a pause as our two faces matched. "Do I know you?" I said. She contined still smilling, still open, holding in tension that possibility. Believing in it. I scanned my memory of possible fits. Trying to make it work. She collapsed it. "Sorry I thought you were someone else". She moved off. Stopped outside a bookshop scanning the titles.

Earlier in a cafe with my back to the open door that led out into the road, I'd fixated on a bucket out in a backyard which could be seen through a series of two doors left ajar that lined up from where I was sitting. Drops of water bounced in and out again of this nearly full bucket so that the surface water rippled continuosly. I could not tell where the water was coming from because the door frame cut off midway my vision of the water descending. It was probably coming from a pipe because, as I knew full well- although I actually looked up to double-check- it wasn't raining. A man came in by that door and closed it.

Two pieces of furniture on the pavement struck me on the way out just before the incident with the woman where I said "Do I know you?" It was a small uphostered chair with an interesting curvature of the back and smooth nicely finished wooden legs and an even smaller side table made out of a single piece of polished yellowing plywood curved back on itself into an S. Together they created a beautiful clashing of surfaces. As I walked along the street I in fact kept looking back at these always adapting angles that lined up differently on every step and turn that I made. At the moment when I look back for the last time an old woman, tiny in frame who is bent over with her neck pressed into her shoulders with a soft downy and open face comes out of the shop dressed in brown and positions herself round to the front of the chair.

I actually got to the foot of the bridge where a sign warned of essential work being carried out. I could see a digger over by the old filter beds across on the other side of the canal where the level of the water drops suddenly to divert into the parallel flow of the River Lea creating an affect like a water fall with a constant sound that I like to hear when I am tired. That is by the side of a fig tree dusty from the road above where figs never grow to full size and by an old round lock house where the slates on the roof are beginning to fall. A man sat in the driver seat of that digger with his head far back. It was not moving or making any noise at all. I turn back and go in the other direction past a pub where there was a sign advertising an 18 piece band the weekend after next. But before I got there a man and a woman passed me. The man called back to me asking me if the bridge was closed. "No" I said.

I am passing building constructions, some almost completed, the cladding hugging it from the ground up. In other sections you can look right  into the timber framework of the various partitions that are demarcating rooms, corridors, individual living units. Some of the new glass windows look out onto the canal and some look in onto the playing field where the coloured frames of a children's play area can be seen in the distant. They are even dredging the canal, piling up all the rubbish in various cordoned off sections of water for later collection. Down the other way the Olympic Park is under construction. There's a recession everywhere else but in this derelict part of Hackney of  pre-war vacant Wharehouses and unexploded bombs the ground is being meticulously cleared and prepared for this housing project, one of many satellites out from the hub of the Olympic village.

I cross the bridge further up. I see that the cows have been put back on the marshes where they have been absent all summer. I collapse by the row of mature trees just down the slope. There is an upturned red traffic cone near to where I sit and some discarded paper. I think about moving the cone or at least standing it up but don't. I lie there like that. On the ragged grass with powdery earth between the tufts. When I open my eyes I hear the trees. My neck is stiff but I manage to twist it behind my left shoulder just enough to catch the flickering motion of leaves curling this way and that on themselves. It is an arangement of light and dark crashing in on one another. Stealing the space in a constant flicker. The wind is picking up. I walk behind the man and dog much further off now at the far end of the field. I turn onto the raised up decking which is a narrow path made of slats and slats of cut and nailed together lengths of wood. These are then covered with chicken wire pulled tight across the slats and also bolted down. I am passing the cows and at a very specific moment when I look over to where one of them is sitting the other one standing their horns appear to lock together. It is as if they were physically connected even though as I walk on these horns again float apart. One of the cows turns it's head.

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