Friday, May 12, 2023

Two Roadsides

 two place-aware accounts of trauma, by Carrie Stanley and Alec Finlay

(contains descriptions of extreme trauma and violence)

The path was held by walls of climbing roses, their stark stems stripped by a late September cold snap. A walkway of pale stones met my steps, gravel crunch and laboured breath. The cold rocks shifted with my sinking knees, a dislocated fragmented landscape with no signs of life, now magnified at close view. A new world of weeds plucked and tossed. Cheek to rock, my eyes slipped between dark crevices, embalmed with tears and sinking sobs. 
I made the call I needed to, words gushing, greeting a cloudburst hundreds of miles away. Then lay I don’t know how long in the middle of the path, a nucleus suspended on a sea of disintegration.
            I see the fields and lines of poles
sound     comes
keening in
                  magpie calls
eyes fall to earth             
                                                         blades bend tears 
absorb the screams
                           through the swathe
    of willow
the feathered tuck
   and suck
                   of cumulus    
Our first meeting followed a funeral in Perthshire. For a blessing I proposed we walk three times around a circle of fubsy stones beyond the village. On the second round she began to cry and got no further. I consoled her and we went back to the car.
Driving south, through the Autumnal dusk, I gently reminded her we’d agreed not to be lovers and that, after a romantic dinner of venison shot by a silver arrow, I would be going home alone. We’d discussed in messages, how we’re going to wait until she left her partner. No fankled affairs this time. Do it right.
Car brakes slam. Elbows and knees jangling, she pushed toward me, shrieking, I have to comehave to, I will, I am. I could only stutter, but we agreed. I’d never been forced into intimacy before.   
The common-sense in waiting, ending old things without deceit, not confusing love with need, was shattered. 
I was too scared to refuse. But where was the elfin figure who’d dissolved in soft tears by the stones? How, within an hour of meeting, had this rage come into my life, gripping me as a figure I must heal and would never.
The suddenness of her seething opened a hollow inside, a child’s den of unsaid and must, recognisable to anyone who lives with episodical violence. To the violent these passing storms are seen in terms of their own suffering, but, once repeated, to the person punched or raged against, shock lays in wait in any moment.
I hid my gaze out of the windshield, trying to shelter my eyes among the fuzzy trees. Fright was spelled in their branches. But it would be safe in there. The trunks formed rank as a roadside screen, like the Botticellian trees. As a wee boy, snuggled between cotton and linen, I’d puzzle why the beautiful figures in the wood were turned away from the abduction. There were no screams, only a sickly flower falling from am open mouth.
The tilt of the road panicked. Terror of collision, metallic impact on a narrow road, flinched against a ramming.
Drive, please drive the carit isn’t safe to stop here.


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