Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry, Writing

Day 322

I started writing another poem in my head earlier, but the day has been so relentless, I have forgotten even the few short words that made up the first sentence. Perhaps it will come back to me when I’ve calmed down a little. The good thing is that I walked alot yesterday, and I’ve walked a lot today. And I’m still doing the press-ups every morning. But it’s not really what I want to write about. I’d rather not write about myself at all, but create something new. And today I’m permanently – probably the 7 miles I walked, and the more than yesterday.

Last night, as I walked up the hill along the road that cuts through the Heath, at about half past eleven, desperate to get home before midnight so that I could get the blog up at least on the day on which it needed to go up to still count as having blogged every day, I started talking to myself, out loud, my thoughts running away out through my mouth. And I was thinking about how everyone who cares for me is always telling me to make time for myself, and I thought, out loud, that this walk up here, in the dark, the wind blowing, the leaves turning, the trees making the lights flicker and shimmer, that this time, this walk, was my own time. No-one about, no people to avoid or circumnavigate, no traffic, nothing. It was cold and it was glorious, and I was warm, in this cocoon of thought and exercise, and everything felt good.

I wish I could remember the line from the unwritten poem.

I will organise myself properly this weekend. There is still a lot of stuff floating around in this new/old bedroom office that needs to find its place, the drawers and shelves in this tiny desk still mostly empty because there’s just not been occasion or time to put the things in there that belong in there. And I need to clear the table in the kitchen, at least the area where I sit because that’s just over-run with stuff as well, bits of paper that need actioning, objects that need putting either back where they belong (like into the toolbox), or that need a place finding for them. That’s what life is, really, just moving objects from one place to another until they find the space that was always meant for them.

I do know there’s a poem started somewhere about the museums of our life, but I’m not ready to finish that one yet. And it wasn’t the one my brain started writing this morning. Ah, it’s just come back to me, as I sit here, re-seeing where I was when I thought of it, and what I was doing when I thought of it. I’m not about to write it, but the message it will convey is that drinking coffee again has made me feel like I’ve been asleep for the past fourteen years, and living life at about a third of the pace at which I should have been living it. There, now that I’ve written down the thought and the words, I can let them do their work inside my head, because I won’t forget them now, won’t be able to forget them.

I think the threads are being gathered up and drawn together now, in Aggie, with 6 weeks of writing left. Twelve more days, and she’ll be purged from each day on which I have written her on this page. It will be interesting to see if I will have the will to finish her on time. I’d better.



And it’s towards the cathedral that Aggie makes her way now. She’s not going to go home, wants to be inside that building that first welcomed her here those years ago, or was it just weeks, or was it decades, wants to sit in there and absorb the silence, the peace, the sanctuary. She’s not even sure she believes in God, any gods, any greater force that might or might not have an influence on life. How could she, with all the evil she has seen, how could she, oppressed as she was, at one point, by a woman who made out she was the creator and ruler of all? The woman who ended up in a wheelchair with hands that barely moved, and a body that was crumbling into dust.

Aggie crosses the bridge and walks up Prince of Wales Road. She doesn’t want to walk along Riverside to Pulls Ferry and cross there, for fear of being spotted out of the window of her house (Cassie’s house, really) by Lily or any of the others. She just wants a few more minutes of peace before she has to retell everything that happened in the short time she was away, wants to escape from reality for a few brief moments. She picks her way through the streets, in her usual unobtrusive and yet constantly vigilant way, until she reaches the huge gates that border the Cathedral estate on the city side, amazed as always that the crooked massive gate towers haven’t yet collapsed into rubble and spread all over the street and stampeded their way into the city that lies around this acreage of Church-owned land. She strolls in through the Ethelbert gate, close by the school, the private school, walks across the cobbles around the back of the Cathedral until she reaches Edith Cavell’s grave again, the place where this particular journey started one night the previous week.

Aggie thinks it’s odd, being here in the day time, that she can just walk into the cloisters round the corner rather than letting herself into St. Saviour’s Chapel with her illicit key, and then into the main body of the Cathedral, close to where the acid bomb narrowly missed her, around the Ambulatory, and then into St. Saviour’s that way. There are only a few people in here at this time of day, this cold February afternoon, the sun barely creeping above the skyline, the cathedral’s insides bathed in that indeterminate light that comes with this time of year when everything is nothing but uncertainty.

But Aggie hasn’t come here just to stroll around to the Cathedral, not just to sit in one of the pews in St. Saviour’s where, this time, no-one invisible is waiting to attack her. She wonders how Zav and Anna and Robert are doing in York, pushes the thought to one side. She creeps towards the altar, waits for the few people who are in here gazing at the windows and the ornate ceiling to disappear, sidles closer and closer to the altar where the opening into the tunnel is, pauses, waits for the silence to overwhelm the entire structure that is this holy place, and slides herself horizontally under the cloth, under the altar, activates the mechanism recessed into the stone floor hidden from view permanently because of the architecture of these strange rituals, drops down into the tunnel and lets the door drop down silently above her.

‘I was wondering when you’d get here.’


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