Landlocked I lie, burning lizard for a throat, a dried up branch under the scorching heat of the endless acid blue sky. They call it dehydration. I call it death. Only the ghosts on the other side remain to me, the ghosts of the living. I ran once and became the running, loved and was nothing but love. Now, all is memory, now stretches forever. I am the bottom and top of my own story, its beginning and end. Except there is no up and down, no start or finish, no movement through time.
Locked in eternal present, I exist at every point, in every grain of desert sand, in every molecule of scorched air, every atom of the endless acid blue sky. My story is my memory, my memory exists at every infinitely small point of my memory. Existing at every point means I exist at no point. I have nowhere to look from, no other point to relate to. Existing at every point, I lie pointless. Everything is pointless. I am nothing in nowhere. Only the ghosts on the other side remain to me, the ghosts of the living.
The first time, he took me up the hill to the place with the walled garden and the pond with its water lilies and wet shadows. The flowers buzzed with smells softly scenting the dappled earth, the fountain falls, splashing and long plashes in the warm air, and the big fat bees. Then we walked through the woods to the village and under the cooling arches of high trees and sat on the curved wall around the little lake and watched the men and boys with their model yachts, the thin green and red and yellow sails leaning like sleep into the breeze.
I remember Dad in his big blazer with his wide white shirt collars spread over it smiling at me as he rowed me on the water of the park lake. Then, one day, the images all run into each other because my memory had overflowed with so much newness in the world, he took me in a little motor boat on the River Dee, he held onto the wheel while he let me sit and steer for a while. He laughed so rarely, so happily and honestly, when he saw how excited I was as we were caught in the bow waves of the passing pleasure cruiser.
The biggest day was when he took me over the water, over , over. Still my mind was too small to put all the flood of sensations into place. The ferry boat was coming nearer. It seemed big as two houses. I could feel the landing stage going up and down. Dad gave me a penny to put in a machine where I could print my name on a metal strip, There seemed hundreds of people. My lips were salty. Dad bought me some chips while we were waiting. The ferry boat was green and cream. the landing stage was cream and green. The water was green with rainbows in it. The ferry boat was huge. It hit the side with a thud and the landing stage moved. Ropes were thrown. Big strong men were tieing them up. The boat strained and the ropes creaked. There was a rattle of chains and a crash as the gangways hit the landing stage. We went down the back. I looked between the landing stage and the boat down at the water waving big slaps against the tyres hung there. The ropes got thrown aboard. The engines went throbbing deep right through the boat and into my feet and my stomach and my head. Then, wonderfully, the foam churned, the most wonderful thing I had ever seen in my life, the churning white foam and off we were with the swooping gulls and it was like nothing I will ever be able to remember, there was nothing for me to compare it with, nothing at all and that is what wonderful is. We had sausage and chips in a little café on the other side. I went on a little fair. I got four tickets for four rides. The best was a little train that went through a tunnel and some woods, and my Dad came with me on that. Then down in the rocks was a pool and my Dad paid a man and I was out on the water on my own in a little boat that you paddled by turning handles on the the side, and there were crabs and green mossy stuff, and a lighthouse too, and he got me an icecream. One amazing thing I do remember, will never forget. He stood while we were waiting for the boat back and it was almost night now. He said to me to look over to where the lights were coming on in Liverpool and I didn’t know what he meant. It hit me like a brick in the head when I finally understood I was not in Liverpool any more, that it was possible to go out of Liverpool, away from home.
I was very tired going back. I was almost asleep on a bench on the deck looking through the big gaps in the walls of the ferry, the twinkling lights, the ships in the docks, then the soft thud against the landing stage, the rattle of chains and the creaking of ropes in the darkness.
Dad bought me a little yacht from Woolworths for half a crown. It wasn’t very big. I sailed it in the bath. It got broken. Dad went away and never came back. I got other boats for the bath, just cheap plastic tugs but Uncle Jim gave me this clockwork boat that was huge. My brother took me down the Tankies which was where there was a pond. We set the rudder so the boat would go round in a circle and set it going. But something went wrong and it headed straight to the middle of the pond and stopped. We tried throwing stones and stuff to make waves so it would go to the other side but it wasn’t working. I’d had tinned plums for tea so it must have been sunday. I swallowed a stone and had terrible bellyache. I got really angry and threw a big branch and it hit the boat and the boat sank. My brother thought it was very funny and said what a good shot I was. All the way home he was laughing at me. I was screaming tears of misery.
Older, we, the gang, found Lunts Farm, derelict and wide sweeps of fields and ditches, a few old farm buildings. Later the builders would move in to construct the new Garswood estate. In the middle of it all was the Figure 8, a large pond. I never knew where the raft came from. It gave us the opportunity to get as near as we ever would to playing at swallows and amazons. I never had any trouble getting a turn on the raft which could carry four or five at a push. I don’t know when I took to going down there myself or why. But I’d go, and spend hours punting around on the raft, feeling the board sink and rise beneath me, feeling something without weight rise and fall within me like a gentle calmness. Then one day, a gang of lads appeared at the bank. They were from the first new maisonettes built down Holly Road in the first phase of the housing. I just stopped. I froze with fear knowing something bad was going to happen. The brick hit me just over my left eye. I ended up crawling through the reeds and the mud then they took turns at kicking me, then I staggered home under the indifferent sky, a grownup.
It’s still warm, humid. I’m locked in happily to coincide exactly with where I am and who I am. The rain has started and it’s running down the windows. The cold water I’m drinking is the water of all time. The rain is beautiful, all its streams on the glass running into each other and descending and breaking into new rivulets, drops, memories of lakes and rivers and the sea. And as running I became running, loving became loving, in writing the words that is all I am. The rest is only dried up ghosts from the other side, the ghosts of the dead.