Stepping Out

Through this train window I see bare winter fields; horses, houses, deserted stations, tracks and pathways, a green fence disappearing into water logged ground. Industrial murk. A fox emerging out of scrub, glimpsed and gone, what was it carrying?
Recalling another place and time, a rabbit crossing the cracked and broken concrete surface of the Spanish City Amusement Park. The rides long since gone, just marks in the memory, scars on the ground. Replaced by a travelling fair that stopped on the Links above the beach, set up for a week, then disappeared for another year.
The man opposite is chesty. Sniffing, snuffling, can’t stop coughing. He’s wearing baseball boots. I return to the scene blurring, merging with the grime on the window, the clattering train, murmuring voices in the carriage. Return again to your wandering, still, after all these years, trying to understand the compulsion.

‘Didn’t need money. Just stepped out the door. Enjoyed the movement. Never that comfortable anywhere for long, so kept moving.”
‘How did you live, eat?’
‘Hand to mouth, sometimes nothing for days, and then when there was work I’d eat, sleep in a bed, cheap lodgings, that sort of thing. Good times. What I remember anyway. Sometimes think it’d be good again, while I still have the energy.’
‘Memory’s a funny thing. I can walk a thousand miles between here and the kitchen, just to put the kettle on. It was different when you were little, right to be around for you and your Mam.’
‘Did she ever tell you what that meant?’
‘We had some fun didn’t we? What with all the walking, playing, beach combing. You seemed to enjoy yourself?’

Sitting in this clattering carriage, staring out of a scratched and dirty window at a disappearing landscape, wondering when the familiar line of the Downs will appear. Thinking that you’re nothing more than an echo, felt when I least expect it, but with me, in some way always here.