(This Life) Part 9: Forever Pure
The road forks and there a broken house -
Walls thorned, windows, shutters shattered,
Dented by weather’s rage and man’s -
And though deserted those passing by
Might see in the corners of their eyes
The figure of a young man weeping,
Will quicken, lengthen stride and pass,
Hearts stilled, beyond its graveyard fades.
Those who pause curious are caught
At the entrance to the gravelled drive
Where stands a simple stone inscribed:
“Know, all who pass through this gate,
This house once was alive with love;
When that died so too did I,
Unclothed of all that made me man,
My name obscured, my make simplified
As The Broken Heart of Hartfield High.”
“I saw him standing on the hilltop, rainbows playing behind curved a temple in the spray from the water pipes he’d just laid. I watched; he turned, reached into his cab and took out a violin. Then he began to play, the stroke of his bow carrying whispers, the blue of the burning sea, the sound of the sand beneath my people’s feet, the voices of the stars jumping across the breathless space that separated him from me; aching, aching they came to moor inside my heart, ricochet unfettered against its unthorned walls, and I closed since my birth began to open.”
Her laughter, green as an apple, captured me,
Rippling across the lettuce fields,
She, among the other Travellers
Pitched for the Summer season’s picking,
Sun red luminous hair flaming,
Sigynnae captured in her vibrant glow,
and I too,
I courted her with care, discretely –
She guarded, father, brothers watchful,
honour staked in her untainted form –
Taking iced water and melon sliced
When they grouped tribal for a break.
A spill, a glance, an accidental touch,
Tokens exchanged, assignations arranged,
Moons from different galaxies pulled
Slowly into an orbit plotted
By the evolution of love’s
“I was born to walk the Earth, expelled from the womb to travel unrooted, the ache of not belonging carried deep inside my uncorrupted flesh, eased by the secret tongues that spiralled past our high caravans carrying seeds heavy with the sense and power of all that was beyond and above the eye’s arc. When he touched me, when I was touched, it was as the seeds, igniting, healing the hard edged emptiness of my belly, his music a fiery teacher, decadent and yearning, and I revelled in the making of those moments.”
Nothing compares with love,
The universe silenced by its depth,
Boundless touching and touched,
Strings synchronised, each spinning truly
For the other, always the other,
Creating space for each other,
Within and without each other
Until the one becomes the other,
Seeded and seeding unquestioned.
“I lived for the next moment with him. Was careful, made sure I was seen toeing the line. Straight and narrow I stayed. Explained my toilet breaks as ‘the women’s curse’. But always I saw their eyes on me. Whenever I broke from the tribe they watched, my father, my brothers, standing by the blackened 4*4s chewing paan and watching, watching every move I and the women made.
I was careful, hurried back before the bell. But they watched, followed me one day.
In the midst of the ash grove they came upon us,
Fury in their boots and fists.
They stamped on his arms and legs,
Jumped on his head and chest –
I felt the pain of the breaks,
The wrack of his flesh -
They fucked him up,
Left him half buried in the earth.
I watched him watch me as I was dragged away,
And knew, knew he’d come for me,
The hope of that moment keeping me.”
Two years we ran from their steel and studs –
They found us in the bedsit in Penarth,
Tracked us to the B&B in Roath,
The basement flat in Gravesend
And the croft neighbouring Wall’s End –
Before we came here to Hartfield High,
To a full year of silence
And we thought we were finally safe.
They came on New Year's eve,
Forced the door to the conservatory,
Came armed with ropes and blades.
“’Nothing compares with us,’ they said:
‘From Atlantis we are descended.
Pure and untouched we are,
And untouched must stay.
You’ve had your moment,’ they said.
‘Now is the moment to say goodbye’”.
On page five of The Star Gazette dated 6th January:
“The body of a Traveller, a young woman, was found hanging in The Glade Saturday night. Efforts were made to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. A police spokesperson said: ‘Foul play has not been ruled out and a thorough investigation is under way to ascertain the events leading up to this tragic moment.”
On page six of The Star Gazette dated 6th March:
“The naked body of Joseph Kramer was discovered by police after a neighbour alerted them to a foul smell coming from his property. The initial report from the medical examiner stated that he had been dead for at least a month, with the evidence to date suggesting a heart attack which resulted in him falling down the stairs, the two events resulting in almost immediate death. The neighbours said he'd kept himself to himself, rarely been seen outside his house since the tragic suicide of his wife at the beginning of the year. It is understood he had no immediate family in the village and efforts are ongoing to trace his relatives.”
In The Glade for forty days
There hung dressed in white an effigy of her,
A note pinned to the branch which said: