Standing by your locked gate
My inner core is iron
My outer shell is tin
Hit me with a hammer
To let my past times in
I turn to drink
As I try zinc
To get my red corpuscles moving
For being here
As left me totally still
I return to the institution. It's different. Still for kids. Kids lost in activity. It feels right and pleases me as much as anything ever will. The gate is iron. Visitors press 0 for reception. Code words are not needed, no special numbers, no secret signs. Just press 0 for reception but though I'm here I cannot press. I have become ghostly. I was interred here. Lost to the world here. The weight of the earth presses against me under an appropriately drizzly sky. And my mass, such as it was, turns to base metal. Inside I am hard. Malleable on the outside. Hit me with a hammer now. I'm sure all those past times will chime. Evoke, invoke, provoke memories. But I am still, inert, not moving, frozen to the spot.
The common has grown. Trees twisted and twisting everywhere. Haunted into misshapen reflection of the gargoyle children that had played amongst them. I was amongst their number. A slow, gangly, runner. Always first to be caught in trail games except when hid amongst the sand stone. Oaks are yet still royal here. Crab apples fair. Nuts abound in autumn. A sweet horse chestnut shelters passersby on the wrong side of the church wall which now houses a home. The hedgerows like the trees are grown too. Making the top end of the lane almost impossible to pass as fear stalks the reticent walker rooted to his spot. I remember ferns. Curly fronds and all. I have not spotted one yet but then I am ice. Just looking out and about and up and down and all around without moving anything but my head.
The height of things is such that those who remain inside can now no longer look out. I would not have been able to look in if it hadn't have been for the lowness and the presence of the gate. This foxes me. When I was there looking out was always possible. We had fences made of wooden staves standing on a ridge dotted with rabbit holes. Gypsy encampments thrilled. Guitars. Campfires. The staves are gone. The gate is locked and the fence is white metal mesh. Looking out as we did encouraged escape. It is said some of us got out and joined a circus. I, of cause, could never run that fast. At least I could hop the fence, at least I could spend the night on the cold damp ground. I am yet to work out, in my head, why escape always involved dark dank nights full of large and rapid rain drops. And I wonder further about the height of things and the white mesh that I now see encircles the fond perimeter of the hated ground. Does it keep you newbies in or we oldsters out.
Memory filters in over the tin but gets lost inside, rebounding from the iron interior, not being given access to the heartland. The mind works its wonders. Close down is upon me. My memory does not call for celebration, a party, the very best of a cockney knees up, and yet as I find the scope to move my legs away from the horror I spot a new sign. The way that history marks it defames me. Why this memorial to the past, why this commemoration. Couldn't anyone tell them how this land confounds me, how my life was shaped within its ancient furrows, caught between escape, defence and striving to find life beyond myself and institution - the secret remains revolution.
Posted by Rich Downes, 22 May 2016
Last modified by Rich Downes, 22 May 2016