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The same, year after year, feeling the nearly there success in some cottony, crisp-cold dawn. Re-cut portions: making me believe I’m truly old, and blemishing what could be achieved with the future or with the present. November clearnesses. Close-but-far opportunities. Brittle boundaries: the opaque, cloudless glassiness – the capital’s movers drifting slowly, reaching lights and warmth and micro-sanctuaries. Lamp-goldened pavement strips. How I slept with ease behind those dawn-greyed curtains, and what difficulty I face in attempting to reach that land again. Infant-morning calmness. In it appear mashed apparitions, hideous but sometimes pretty over-layered outlines, everywhere: emerging from coffeehouses, from behind parked vans or moving buses. Delayed figments from the seminal days. A four-year-remnant echo getting dimmer but hefty enough to resound in morning’s crispness or with the curtain time closing in. Do the figments come to me now as a prank? Somebody playing tricks on me? The omnipresent spectre of past – orange-clad men like lasers in the decaying daytime, dusk-version shadows with familiar strides, gone-era melodies distant and fractured, slow-setting sun bathing Thames lanes in wintery pinknesses. Sometimes these days repeat ad infinitum. Other times small markers display in human movements the inevitable passing of time.

Derelict discounters. Boarded-over banks. Old photos. Rapid infinities. This place is reiterating near-change mode: the past slabs surviving. The flashing bulbs erratic, out of sync. Almost-un-seeable movement of the eras, reshaping and resculpting the locale to bury any chance of me doing the same time again exactly as before. Fumbling the idea that, with fresh knowledge and a wiser head, I could go back into a formative land – with everything as it was – and alter only my actions, so that I wasn’t just moving through time. But the place doesn’t wait for that – people get restless, the energy transforms, gains new vibes and loses others. It never remains in stasis. So I’m anxious that I have to get things right first time and nail the moment: execute the move. Second chances are not probable.

Life is streamlined. But, on top of this, molluscs of past do repeat, overlaying the flight of time: they are varied, almost bidding to reconstitute the displaced fragments of scattered stories and veiled pasts that prod the present, discontent with their fleeting limelight. Those eldritch embers are the worst, because they offer suggestions the once-there opportunities are somehow still available, yet they have an accompanying distance, being as they are obvious memories of memory, refracted feelings and words spoken once, so cut up and smashed by other voices and interfering signals to become almost completely redundant, and useless in the bigger quest for era-closing clarities. The easy-hard apparition, with its tantalising answers, was so under-the-surface but offered up a ginormous dilemma. Would I stay because of it? It imprisoned me. It gave me the impression that everything was available: and that tricked me, even though I was willing, into believing that I could redistribute the glories of the past, and thus encouraged me to remain surrounded by crumpling dreams. The contradiction also floored me – I could not face the pain for one second longer... but neither did I have the strength to turn myself away. In a sense this suggested I wanted the torment, or relied on it to some extent.

The strange utopia of the imagined autumnal dusk. Endless heads pastelised in diminishing light, or the sole traveller slipping into warm cafe-bulbs, the throbbing bronze. That eternal image, never decaying. Friends – gone, or still there – huddled in workrooms, sort-of-unchanged by the seasons, quietly in the little communities but gradually fading out of reach for me, all of them, one by one. If I were to break through the walls of those offices now, would they truly be there? Or would I feel them only as aftershocks. Dampened energies? I knew all this, so I imagine on repeat that time-paused scene and a golden dusk some time just before the solid chills – a date-fastened, glinting moment that generated the brightness of Sirius among many other episodes of a darker past. That degrading passage, recycled in the winter dawn radio scatterstatic, hyphenated broadcasts, slivers of melody.

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© Copyright 2017 John Maher