Often I Dream Of Corvids

The slight odour of burnt dust and peculiar guilt that accompanies the use of central heating in early June.

At low tide, the sea at Old Leigh can barely be distinguished in the distance between the sodden strands of banks that run parallel to the shore and glint at the viewer. She wanted the sea. We sat as close as we could, with a pair of pint glasses and an open packet of pork scratchings, as the sea rolled quickly in, and we burned terribly.

I accept that Everything comes to an end. I expect it. I anticipate it. Everything ends. I try, but when it ends, I recognise its face and call its name, yet Everything ignores me, walks on. O well, I think, Everything ends.

Beneath the deciduous tree along my pathway lie shadows of a different sort, sticky enough to follow one down the street. Odiferous puddles that have accumulated off the virginal leaves and tender stems. What makes it so sticky to the soles of our trainers? Might we pause and sniff it deeply? It falls on us as we walk beneath deciduous trees like confetti.

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There are a great many things that I think, thoughts that go nowhere but—‘You should write that down.’ So it goes that I forget them, the thoughts that go nowhere, the things that I think. And this performance rolls on; the bombardment of consciousness, the dotty Stalingrad, the loose criterion of what is memorable and what, most of all, falls away.
From the crack in the prison’s outer walls, a spindly pink flower rises, fragile and trembling in the wind—away it grows from the C.C.T.V. cameras and the spikes, towards the roads in which little cars churn past, people within, squabbling and laughing colourfully with the windows down.

The word deciduous is one of my favourites. I place it here in italics.

My boss read the text out to me—‘Can he be saved?’ The language was biblical and I had a great ambition to be human—‘Doubt it.’

There was graffiti on the spine of the bridge. Starlings picked at minutiae in the sand. Bank holiday Friday. Eastend’s retirees mingled with affluent young families with monochromatic tattoos and good teeth, expensive hair. In silence, a handsome husband, who had not lifted a finger, looked at his phone, drank his beer, as she pulled her breast out and sighed as the featureless babe guzzled.

Do not open the letter. Do not look away. Watch the cooking show. Soothing and soothed.

In an Eggleston photograph, seen dozens of time, on the birthday of her who pushed me towards him—I see that there is a cicada. Blink and you will miss it. I can still remember the first time I heard Stairway to Heaven, the first time I smelled apple juice & vodka.

On my forearms around the elbow down to the wrist, and on the side of my neck. I do not like my neck but it is where I keep my valuables. The smell of after sun—or indeed of suncream—is one of the best scents ever. I apply it liberally and rub it in; the nuisance of a humid bathroom, a cat attacking the fern, the mirror clearing slowly and everything coming into focus. Vividly, I am in a hotel room, my skin tough from the sun, a foreign land; I inhale and joy swims through me.
Most of all it is the loss of a friend, not a lover, that affects me the most; everything I wish to share must die on the vine for it has nowhere to go.

On the doorstep of summer, I drink cider. University, west country, beer festivals, rotten teeth, rats in the vats, scrumpy red noses, the cute names of apple varietals. I had my first pint of summer’s cider with her next to the water at Old Leigh. It cut through the salt of the: peanuts, air, the pork scratchings.

In the phone—contrary to my earlier admission—I had written down our order for a recital to the brace-faced waitress who was so wonderful and infectiously happy: salmon hosomaki, crispy cauliflower, pork belly, soft shell crab, pak choi, peking ribs, noka rice. Later on, she told us about the pubs in town, where best to get a pint before our train home.

The eggs have hatched, or the chicks have hatched; either way, hatching has occurred. Crows are on the hunt. The gulls chase the crows and make a noise. There are three chicks now and I suspect that, in the absence of anything else to do, I will watch them grow over the summer and see who remains.

While searching for a packet of gum, my fingers happened upon a cigarette filter that had intertwined itself with some loose strands of cotton at the bottom of my backpack. It is over six months since I have had a cigarette. Often I dream of smoking. I wake up guilty and tell myself that it is forgivable to have one cigarette, until I see that it is all a dream, that I no longer smoke. It is over six months since I have had a cigarette, still. I miss it, even though it is bad for me, I miss it.