Sunday, April 05, 2009

Devil's Dyke

It’s the first heat of the year, all orange on my shoulders, glowing in my cheeks. Grass is soft under my hands; the hill is cows and lambs chewing on their mother's soft underbelly. We pass ponies, bumble bees, a shrew in the undergrowth. Skylarks. Kites bent high in turquoise. My back is hot, my face whipped cool by spring wind. I can see my breath.
     It's majestic up on the hill, the yellow flowers of gorse bushes drawing blood on my finger. Then a pub with babies on strings, dogs with big fur, yapping; men guzzling plastic pints of ale. I nibble on oatcakes, basil leaves and sometimes fingers. The land arches like a back, folds like a handful of secrets.
     Then I am walking back, lost, wondering whether to worry that I am lost. The moon is up on my left side. As long as it's on our left, we'll find our way home. But we're turning this way, that way... left, right, all about. I look up to my left and there it is... a snowy apparition in all that sunshine.
We pass horses galloping, erratic, tossing their riders. We pass the pylon and the path that disappears into nowhere. We pass the side of the hill that looks like skin. I want to stick out my finger and touch it, taste it under my tongue, bite it.
     A six o' clock chill creeps under my jacket. Then we're back to bricks and tarmac and some man jogging. Gardens with fountains spitting tiny jets of water. A door slashed with Happy Birthday in a gold plastic streamer, five children inside, sitting in the shadows. I stand, feet flat on the pavement, the sun once again blinding me.
     It's the end of Sunday afternoon. I ride the packed bus the rest of the way home, sore muscles and something soft under all these bones. It radiates out from my clothes, this softness; it nuzzles up to other passengers. Of course, they never notice. I walk up a cold street. Push open the door. Slip into a warm pub full of people. Order coffee. Sit down; lift the mug to my teeth. Hot liquid hits my throat, sliding warmth down my chest. I feel it here in my belly.

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