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I kept seeing figments whenever I went past those in-transition streets. Silhouette figures. When I was moving away on the bus, shapes drifting, briefly, across the flickering streetlights, momentarily blocking them. This would coat me in a shiver, disrupt the order. A little thing scanning across the blind spot in my memory – not immediately visible to anyone else but still there, a happening. Those souls refused to break away from the crumbling neighbourhood and they were keeping warm for the winter by taking refuge in the fortress.

Blinking bulbs, buttery blue turning-on lamps here and there. The spectre of close-by souls. It remained there for so long, despite the life of it being all-but squashed. Its last breaths visible in nakedness for all passers-by to wonder at as it continued to deteriorate beyond the hour of its natural death. These concrete fields crumbling, the territory living out a trapped existence, locked in-between the past and the present, but unable to fully depart to its inevitable future. Its tortured rumblings could already be heard above the Walworth Road’s ricochets and trains braking. They were audible to me at least. Shrieks carried in, haunting rammed rush-hour routemasters full of day-goers who were not yet tainted by any of the outer-land precincts.

For months or years it remained giant-sized, a dark blanket, save for the stubborn cube-bulb window across the rubble-tops; the stoic resident. I’d think about this during the bleakest days, with the frostcarpeted ground almost a constant. That unceasing light. A middle-finger salute to the outsiders ready to terminate the lands. The firm resistance. Throughout the late months I was distracting myself and was being distracted by the morsel-shaped glimmers over this frosted barren place as it became hidden and serene in the city’s epicentre. Figments refused to dwindle. Always on the cusp. The energies floating over the normalness of the daylight toils. The hushed zones a laminate over packed-train hatefulness. Lifetimes gone through passageways, blurry flitting.

I continued to see the drained faces in the half-lamps – these faces seemed tortured by something, but was it their faces, or was it mine? Who was having the most fun? And as the winters became harsher and prolonged the remaining sections of the venue seemed to shatter, coming on like an inverse Venice, featuring whole brick and dust alleys and valleys, with some of the whatever-was-left-of-roofs covered in small lakes from recent deluges, and others probably disappeared totally. In some ways there was imperceptible change. A background drape that would still be there until this place ceased. I continued to go there, to actively want to feel the loss. As things moved forwards, as time marched on, the longing cries grew fainter, were drowned out.

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© Copyright 2017 John Maher