This week, I post three Watershed tales, which have been on my mind. Here is the second one, in this sequence. It mirrors in an odd way, “The Knight”. The oil-pastel paintings are from my old sketchpads when at Liverpool art school.
Many of my recorded “Watershed” dreams from the 1970s are “relationship koans” – stories of strange and sometimes “brief” encounters …
Dreams No. 258 17 August 1976
WHICH IS the train to London? There are just too many platforms at Liverpool Lime Street terminus – slots for departure on which to put your pennies. The noise of the great station throws me; small local trains and big ones with diesel engines for distance wait the guard’s whistle – the hands of the clock, a tick from the tock. If I’m on the wrong platform, it’s that hard to cross to the right one, around this or that engine, up here past the ticket office, over sweaty stairs, down past Information – the timetables are covered in fog – it’s a matter of life and death. Some parts of this station are even outside it, away in the city; and by that time my train has gone. Can I find out, a matter of moments before it goes? I haven’t very long, but I’m in no hurry – oddly.
Because I’m sitting on the platform, on the ground.
We walked to this spot together. Me and this man I once knew. But I never saw him before in my life. He says I knew him well, several years ago when I was at college. A penny for your thoughts, dear! And I do have a sort of memory of him.
I have seen and talked with him in the alleys of Taunton, and among my dreams of a disordered and dark city to adventure and lose myself in – just like Liverpool it is, where sailors buy coffee-coloured ladies, and the kids scream and steal and light fires on the cobblestones. He is so familiar. Love and death is a tough tune of sadness; the Anglican Cathedral shelters dropouts, tramps and charwomen with mops; they bomb the dole in the pubs, and the trollops in greasy Parliament Street glow like painted angels. He looked out for me. He knew who I was, he watched over me. I used to see him also in the smaller town, Taunton where I went to school.
We talked first of Liverpool. Oh, I’m about to cry, the great wave which opens my heart! He is from Liverpool, but Ireland was his home. In his voice there lilts the brogue. I forgot all about him! Yet intimate we were, and are. He was a big, very fat man. And he looks ugly because he has not a hair on his head, and his skin is yellow as a lemon. But in his face and manner, a peculiar sensitivity and grace. It reminds me of a song. Or was it a poem, a joining of musical notes from different places and times, where did I hear or read it? “Twas there I learnt readin’ and writin’, at Brockets where I went to school.” And twas there you learnt all of me fighting with the schoolmaster Mr O’Toole! No maid saw he, as fair as … the dew (he lost me) from Bantry Bay to Dairy Kay … just to keep her from the fog – the foggy dew. And from there to Dublin Town … it is crystal clear.
Now that boy – d’you remember? – called Micky Malone came and stole her affection away! and oh, lathered him with his shaghlele did I, ’cause … He trod on the tail of me coat, like that. D’you remember those fields, I run after you … the little glistening hills of rainbow – our ancestry begod, it flows in the peat?
That I met in County Down. He said wistfully, “It was the only … thing he … ever did wrong.”
We sat on the platform, the uncertain moment before parting. We spoke of our past and of now. He’s very kind to me. He seems to like me just as I am. And hideous fat and lemon though he is, I fancy oh yes to bed with him, it is in his quiet touch like the bud of a yellow rose. The sadness is everywhere about this imminent yet indefinite departure of mine, my lord.
“You need a man to be firm with you,” he said “don’t you.” At Taunton art college, and in Liverpool too, my jeans were torn, my feet were bare on the street, and my hair wasn’t washed. “But …” he lifted his shoulders and looked at me very straight “you’re a woman, you’re no eejit. You’ll go where you will, and one day you will turn around and find me. I’m here, you know.” “Yes,” I said, very sad “but I’ve got a man back in London. And he’s very firm with me, really he is.” My friend on the platform sitting close to me on the ground said “and is it sexual?” “Yes,” I said. “Really. Then that is good,” said he.
But that’s not true, is it. It isn’t. It’s all broken and ashamed. And if I said No it’s not sexual, that wouldn’t be true either. What is the boundary of the loyalty, my body to the man back there in London? He keeps me on the rails. So to speak.
The trains on their rails coughingly wait to depart, and some of them have gone, and I don’t know which of them is mine for the long journey. I think I’ve got a few minutes before I get in. The man accepts this with tenderness and regret. “But you must follow what is going to happen to you, mavournin, mustn’t you, all the way.” For I had said so myself. We kissed each other very gently on the lips. My box opens for him again. He is so powerful.
We shared some kind of a drink in a glass. Or the dregs of such a drink which were left. Bittersweet taste and clean and pure and yellow it is, and I’ve got to go and get a full glass of it. I got up, put my purse in my pocket, I left my green suede handbag with him to look after, and went off down the platform alongside the train to the stall where they sell drinks displayed aloft in all kinds and colours. Some of them are milkshakes and some are essences. And some look like ice-creams, they are the colour of violet with square crystals.
“It’s quinine that y’want then,” they said, reaching for it. But … Quinine is terribly, terribly bitter! Am I wrong? They give it for malaria. What if he’s got jaundice, is that why he’s so yellow? If his liver is ill, then quinine wouldn’t be at all the best drink for him, or for me either.
I can’t make up my mind. I must have that yellow drink, none of the others have that flavour and colour where I belong.
There were only a couple or so big diesel engine trains left to go as far as London now.
I woke up, it took me away!
It’s alright. I left me bag, the little green one, with him. I’ll be back.
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.
This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.
All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/