CN: Sexual Assault
It seems like roughly every 5 years a poem writes itself in my head as I cycle home. The last time this happened, when a small boy cat-called me, I posted it here. Strange how both happened while cycling – this one appeared almost in its entirety this evening as took a slightly unusual route home and found myself in the Olympic Park. Some of you from the late 90s London goth scene may remember the ghost homes.
I stare at the map.
YOU ARE HERE, it says.
I run my finger across the rain-damp dusty surface
Tracing the lines of familiar streets,
Trying to put a pin in my past.
The paths I knew 20 years before
Run into voids
That used to be houses, lawns or caravans;
Some run into vast shining towers
Or gleaming tracks of unnatural coloured ground
That once were voids.
The map obscures as much as it tells.
Is it still there, under the ground?
Under the carefully landscaped wilderness,
Or under a discreet bridge or tennis court?
Do the rows of empty stadium seats gaze down at the spot
where I fell?
Would it help if I could write on the map
Or add a pin: IT WAS HERE
HERE is where I heard a sound
As he stepped out from an overgrown lane.
A step, a pin.
HERE is where I gave my instinct a sharp word
Chiding it for paranoia.
My finger traces the map
Another grey void
HOMES COMING SOON.
I put a pin in the ING.
Was this where the curved path ran
Between the flat red and yellow blocks;
Ghost homes on an artificial toxic hill
Twenty years before “coming soon”
The void stretches upwards
Another step, another pin
Was this where I heard the footsteps
And the ringing pain as tiny blood red heartbeats
Exploded around my eyes
Encasing my head in muffled agony?
Another step, another pin
Was this where I fell?
I don’t remember falling
I remember having fallen and feeling a dense weight on my back
As someone grappled and scrabbled at my jacket
Was it a wolf
Confused by the sheen of my cheap job interview suit
Pawing and clawing to get to the meat of me?
Are there wolves in London?
Would it help if I could put a pin right here
And nod and say yes
I AM HERE
This is where I heard the screaming
I am the epicentre of that unbearable noise
As it draws in on me until I am suffocated
Can a scream make you claustrophobic?
I step back from the map
And interrogate the landscape.
Where there were hills, there are dips
The land swells where it was once flat
And I wonder briefly
If the land is actually a slow moving sea
Rising and falling so imperceptibly
We barely notice the waves
Making our past unintelligible.
I cannot trace it.
I wonder if it would help
To stand on the spot and know
I was here.
Or is it better that the memory is hidden
By the land transformed?