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Vanda Carter

This too

Sliding through the underpass. Going up through the gears. The night breathes softly alternative realities. These things will maybe be. Perhaps.


I saw you tap-dance on a tombstone. I caught you peeping through a keyhole. If you fly me to the moon, my love, I'll let you tango on my stars. But do not forget to wind your watch. Because, mile by mile, it is growing very late. And the letter which I sent you, which you tore up and threw away, wrankles in my mind, because I meant it, every word. Did I catch you building castles in the air? Going down and braking gently. I hoped we could be friends. This city is a maze, and a rubbish tip and a planet. I am lost in space and drifting.


Get on the back of my bike and we will go for a ride. We will go dancing in the ruins, before it gets later. This landscape is not unfamiliar. One of us has been this way before. This is not a dream.


This nursery rhyme cityscape, where big is a long way off and small. And small, up close, is concentrating on the gap in a spark plug. Is there a blue flash? Fill your gaze with one millimetre. Is it sparking, is it? Was that a flash of lightening which tore apart my sky? Landscapes are wherever you are looking, and the night has a thousand eyes.


Do this for me, do, if you can hear me, if the wind is not whistling in your ears. Look, look at the view as we go over the brow of the flyover. Look for me, because I must keep my eyes on the road. Look at the city spread out winking. Then look at the back of my neck and my shoulders and collar. Blink and I defy you to tell me what you saw. Have you noticed how ordinary things distort as they merge through blinking red and amber, then are green, and then are ready steady go? Because this too is not a dream.


I sent a letter to my love. I passed my driving test in a snowstorm. I have my licence in my pocket. And we heard music playing. I was only looking for a good time. Polishing the chrome. I must have dropped the papers on the way. Was I distracted? I turned my head. A reedy voice whispered from an alley. Follow me lovely, I am a Pied Piper. Look out, look out, look out. She laughed as I passed. I forgot to bring my A to Z and I lost my way.


I felt so helpless, what should I do. I stood and watched. Retracing and remembering all the thrills we had been through. Your life is your own. Someone boring must have picked you up and put you in his pocket. I sat in the pub and asked you why. I walk by the bypass and wonder, listening to the buzzing of bright gaudy wings. Hovering overhead, waiting for the machines to break down. Something is rotting behind the bricks and mortar. But all you could do was sniff and make hollow excuses. Do you prefer your dreams man-made?


I will go dancing in the debris. With or without a passenger. Tramps like us carry secret moonbeams in a pocket. Or would you rather be a pig? And we will fiddle in the drizzle. I will never be alone. There are legions like me. London will not burn because London is not a thing. It is a few bright neon places and some cosy living rooms and bars and cafes and faces, and a blur of buildings. In between these we pass in the night. In the corner of my eye there is a cup of tea a wrist watch and a hot air balloon, dancing to the rhythm of the engine. Pistons thumping like a heartbeat. And a letter from a friend who never lied, blowing with the rubbish in the gutter?


Come with me. I will murmur for the last time. Stranger, whoever you are, come with me now, before it is too late. And we will break all the speed limits. It takes two or more to tango, so they say, and the neon lights are dancing. If I promise to be honest will you tell me your name? If I tell you my name, will you teach me your magic? There is no time to lose. Are you afraid of motorbikes? This too is not a dream.

© Vanda Carter

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