What Music Looks Like to the Bird
When he seeks peace now he imagines trees at night, smoke drifting, thinks of an older, pullovered man, working his quiet allotment, roots in the earth.
They used to stop for a moment - he never understood that - waiting at the lights, burning, building. They only fought when the car was in motion, and she would begin again: "Which reminds me..."
They were a bad train journey, a train-wreck, but he had needed the journey. He had set out to see what was beautiful in the world but he saw only the dirty yards, the rusting hulks, the decay in things and how neon hid so much.
He saw faces at level-crossings, pale, hoping, but she would sneer at them, and he would look back as the gates rose and wish some strangers well.
He thought often of leaving a note but not closing the door, of just going, but he knew he never would, that he was a coward, that he had to wait - himself to be left or to be awkwardly loved and made of excuses.
He lived with a quiet pain, insidious, fallow, like a bad back, and he knew at least half of his pain was totally his fault and would always be his fault, that the things he had needed were the things that gave him pain.
He ran away from uniform once, from York to Cardiff, went back to courts and punishment, and afterwards he thought that it was no adventure, it was all no more than an interlude and he was pointless.
Once a soldier, he had stood with others beside a filthy landslide where fathers dug and children were choked, and knew this was pointless, too, and he wasn't sure why they were there, only that they were boys themselves and they were wet and black afterwards and threw away their clothes.
Years later he would walk to the game for the laughs, for the hot-dog vans, onions, the walled corners running with piss, and only later that roar that in those days was a man's roar, a small good thing for him, though he did not know it.
Then somewhere, in a slower, darker year after he had passed his own half-time, he began to write some things, of cops and spies and guns, but never the real things. His heroines wore dark glasses and thin smiles, followed men across the world and spoke with Dorothy Parker's cutting wit.
And finally, he was cut free. He failed. He was lonely for a while. But then he began to write about the turning moments in the world, of the seconds, of the dying children, of faces seen through train windows, and hope.