Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry, Writing

Day 70

My head still fuzzy from deep sleep. Totally weird dreams last night. DJs and parties, restaurants serving swill. Wandering without belongings. Waking in strange paces. Not belonging. Following not leading. Loneliness and the feeling of being outside everything, of not having anyone, not anyone, to talk with, to share with. A mess of things. My rucksack emptied and ransacked. Always rooms up stairs, never on the ground floor. Unfamiliar faces. Waking.

This Craft
When we were beginning in this craft
Before the internet was invented
We cut up newspapers and essays
To jumble their words, as millions had
Done before us, and to put them
Together in a different order in
The hope that they would make sense
Of our world. It was guesswork, then,
To make paper patterns with glue
And scissors.

“Always to evade these disgraces” was
The first one, and it sticks in my mind
Forever, transferred onto paper
With a typewriter whose letters stuck
And smeared too much ink on
The small pages I could find. They’re
In a box somewhere behind me
Marked Writings, and numbered
By someone else who was told to
Find treasures in my trove, and never
Did. I forget his name, and don’t care.

The lesson I learned was to trust
Myself, and my ordering of the
World, my instinctive setting of
Expressions in patterns, and to
Understand that how I wrote was
How I thought, and that chaos had
More value than science, emotion
More goodness than analysis.
First draft is final draft
More often than not. Impulse
Is reality.

All generalisations …
We know the rest.

I’m still searching for a new language.



That involuntary movement again, of his, towards her. He stops himself, pulls back, makes sure her index finger can’t reach her. Looks down at the ground.

She walks across to the edge of the platform, sits down with her legs reaching from its edge down to the narrow track. ‘It’s one of the stations on the London Post Office Railway,’ she says, pats the dirty concrete next to her for him to sit down. ‘They stopped using it years ago because not enough people were sending letters and parcels any more.’

He sits down next to her, his legs not reaching the tracks. He feels tiny, says nothing.

She stares straight ahead at the curved wall opposite her, no posters here, not like on the normal Underground. ‘Don’t you think life would be easier still if people wrote letters to each other every day, if they told each other what they were thinking and how they felt. Not this constant communication where they start venting before they’ve even thought about what they’re feeling?’

‘They could just pick up a phone and vent, before they had messaging and email to do it.’

‘That’s two-sided communicating, though, the phone. You can interrupt people, stop them from talking themselves into a back hole. By the time a message gets to you, they’re already in it.’

‘So you don’t have to play the messaging game,’ he says.

‘I don’t. I have no-one to play it with.’

‘Should I feel sorry for you?’

‘Oh, no,’ she says. ‘I was just musing.’

‘And ignoring what I asked you.’

‘Because it made me angry. I don’t like being angry. Anger does bad things to you.’

‘Does that mean you’re not going to tell me what you know about Valentine and Cassandra?’ he says, careful not to move. He feels like she’s a wild animal that could bolt again at any moment.

‘You seem to know everything about them already,’ she says. ‘Things that I didn’t know.’

‘She’s not Russian, by the way. We don’t know where she’s from.’

Aggie shrugs. ‘I don’t really care. I just wish you’d leave me alone.’

‘Where were you going to go when you got to London?’

Aggie shrugs again, her face sullen. ‘I don’t know. I probably realised subconsciously that you’d be waiting for me anyway, and that you’d lead me to where I needed to be.’ She turns to him so suddenly, he jumps. ‘Bloody fast inferior hire car, by the way. What kind of copper are you anyway?’ The vernacular feels odd and uncomfortable on her tongue. Her mentor had always insisted she speak correctly, learn correct English enunciation before hiding it under the blurry edges of her Polish accent.

‘I’m not really a copper,’ he says. ‘I’m more of an agency man, really.’

‘SIS,’ she says. ‘Recruited straight out of university. You always saw yourself as a little too clever for an ordinary career. Police too conventional and too much like tools of the state. Banking too greedy and staid, and posh. You thought a bit of danger might do you good. Calm you down, counter-intuitively.’

‘Nice guess,’ he says.

‘It wasn’t a guess,’ she says. ‘I could feel it.’

‘So why couldn’t you feel Valentine was Russian?’

‘He must be better at deceiving people than you,’ she says.

‘There’s something you’re not telling me.’

‘I don’t have to tell you anything.’

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