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Heatwave odyssey

On the bulk of the pavements we sweat out our angriness, darting between the basketball-player-tall sun-seekers as they crowd the space, twisting it into smallness in their super-tight white t-shirts. Drake blares from the open-top sports car, paintwork black-sheened by the rays. I realise I am floundering in a mad attempt to cut through the airless walkways, face-reddened by the heat, the tiredness, and the pain. It is not possible so I stretch my body out fully and surrender myself to the humidity – I ease my weary limbs into it, imagining the tough air to be curtains that I can easily push aside. Drake snippets caressing a stifling haze. Pollen aroma chastens our throats. Pinky atmos burning. I am melting and I cannot breathe. Smiling faces emerging into the brutal light: these ones seem to revel in it, they do not wilt. I get irritated by this relentless happiness. Why don’t I feel it? I simultaneously want to be within it and outside of it, watching everything unfold, but bemused by it all. I need to get better. I just need space. We both envisage clearness. A recycling of time; inroads. But for now our romantic notions are being eroded by fickle annoyances, those gripes themselves burning the groundwork we put in place in a bid to emerge as more rounded people and force our boyish dreams into reality, largely because we selfishly want the world to develop in our image. And, knowing this to be ridiculous, we strive on, wallowing in dismay when internal and external barriers keep the utopia dangling in the distance. A chalky outline of the castle. This super-sunny day ruins us, ruins me, as it places a visible gap between now and the just-gone chills. Part of the recent past has been rewritten; I have rewritten it. But I feel it so close, even though I acknowledge the chasm. It lingers as an ache, so that I want to try to bury it as I struggle on these scorching pavements, wishing the airless day would sap me to the ground so I no longer have to watch the fun-seekers beam while relentlessly blocking my view - and the route - on their charge to the parks. Lambeth transformed. We set an aggressive pace as we consume the territory: our path invariably zig-zagged by road diggers’ red-and-white-striped partitions. Brixton melting. There goes Stockwell. Vauxhall almost flattens us, the summer-dry airflows like soupy tarmac stenches gusted into our path by bulging double-deckers. All life is dancing around me, in a haze of movement but my mind still drifts, I cannot help it, it is too hard to focus on what’s right here. My mind is torn, and it is exhausting. That is why forgetting would be the almost perfect tonic. But it comes with a catch that I know about and therefore actively resist. The catch being that, although forgetting enables freedom from paralysis, it undoes residual entrails of feelings that were once warming and worth something, and at some point might be valuable again, like returning gifts, providing even miniscule crumbs of fleeting contentment or calm. So on these paveslab-toasty squinteye stretches, cornered by athletic-looking dog-walkers when I long for my mattress, I face a life-changing dilemma, and the people lapping up the premature spring do nothing except cloud my mind further and I want to rush to the bins. Skulk on the periphery. In my mind I was a totally different person just one month ago – I think now of my own shadow moving quietly through the hailstorm in the cold easter forests, the distant sun a crepe-paper version, and it doesn’t seem plausible that the frail image in my head represents the truth. And I want a rainy day because my soul is full of them. The pathetic fallacy has been inverted, that’s what you say. I snippet-laugh. These days have emerged too early, and I would love them to be pushed into the future, to give enough time for my own feelings to be repaired, and for them to be mirrored in the sun-drench. Drake blossoms in metallic tones from the stereo convertible. We are anguished, now, as the furnace haze drains us when we reach brief sanctuary under the roadside giantmap – this sanctuary is of the smallest variety, the rays on us so intense, and so close. Heatwave pressure, communal park aromas. This heat stretching time out, shrinking the past, shimmering promises unreal. The last couple of months rendered dishonest history, at best, and non-existent, at worst, and becoming distinct as a strange presence in my thoughts. At least I recognise it, even though my head is mangled. Me, maddened by the shrinking vision of the cold, a time that did not seem as though it was about to be superseded by anything milder, like the heralding of a totally fresh reality, furnished with different people and roads and insides of buildings. The forests a poignant, dreamlike picture in a frame, one I must forget but a fossil I acknowledge I must also keep a fragment of an essence of, the essence that is now sharpened, because of what immediately followed it, unexpectedly, giving the feeling greater context, defined by the acute contrast of joy and loss, making it a focused thing of strength. The emotions around the cut-off are so pronounced, the sadness drips inside me, I swelter more brimming with the fact that I couldn’t do more to prolong the coldness in the pre-spring darkness, couldn’t stretch it out further and take control of when it ended – instead of the curt blow that registered the time-phase incomplete, made it a forgotten country. Drake voice-lavender silking from the bonnet. The rawness palpable as it spills into this day I long to cool down. Hayfever close-trees and suddenly in-plant bushes threaten us further, offering only more anguish and no solace, with our young but earnest and tired minds shredded by the hip-hop pace of this mega-humid Sunday when we have nothing left to give but demand the breaks that used to fall at our feet, but which seem as obstacle-obscured as the far-off shadow-version turrets of Victoria coach station. We are scared at these outposts. The things we think of others are unfair, our cynicism at their pleasure disproportionate. Why should we resent their sunshine buoyancy? But we indulge our struggles and have our hefty gripes. I justify my own anger as I know that I have toiled for a long time. The storm in my head is even worse in this heatwave and now it is beating the closeness of any lingering radiance into a little box in the past, ensuring the strange period becomes something that never happened. A page-short dream. Us, gobbling up the ancient territory that tries to lock us in a choke-hold. The moments are falling to me like fragments of noise – because the memories are glued together by chunks of music; something solid, recorded mementos, the time-line choruses that allow me to maintain a brittle connection to the months that cannot now by proved by anything else. Drake alpha-brags zapping the fug-steam. I build my memories out of the tunes. They confirm that my fickle emotions are laced with taut energies that are based on tangible bonds that, for whatever reasons, were undone, and that I am convinced will fall to me again, whether in the same, or another form.

Heatwave mashed????

© Copyright 2017 John Maher