June - Passing Through
An early morning walk along a radial avenue travelling a distance of 100m in 46 minutes
Hazy morning. Cold, diffused, muffled light. Cars and traffic and street. Vivid, hard sensation.
A spoon, dirty, marks the start, paper boxes greased, soaked. Birds, 20 or 30, picking. I start,
gentle, the concrete is lumpy and abrasive. Very exposed, I am moving forwards away from the
street. Behind me, car after car, traffic beeps, voices, boy's voices louder: "you Zulu bastard".
Next thing a stone hits me in the back, right in the middle, about level with my heart. It stings,
hits cleanly, bounces off (please let them carry on walking). What have I done to be stoned? (the
bugger is a bloody good aim - he's done this before). A reaction, violence. Clearly words are not
enough to express his anger/confusion/frustration/fear. I am a victim, passive, tears fill eyes. A
number of times the ground on which I focus turns into geometric patterns, circles which are in
some way in suspension, in and on the material surface of the pitted, granular concrete. No one
is passing me although I can feel a cyclist and hear walkers on other paths and the grass. It is
great to move away from the traffic and the air full of the sound of cars. Gradually there is
space for my breathing, birds, dogs, insects. Slipping in and out of time, spaces and awareness,
minutes stretch on and then disappear, absorbed in a series of physical movements which flow so
slowly on and on through each other. I am aware I have a long way to go. Taking in a bigger
view, Ben is far distant. For the first twenty minutes or so he does not seem to get any closer. A
buzz and hum in my ear, right then left as an insect crawls in and starts to suck. My blood, I can
feel my skin pierced and do nothing, a fly attaches itself for a slow ride to my t-shirt. The buzz in
the cone of my ear goes on and on, minutes pass. Certain trees cause a response, a turning in my
body. I am more me now than I thought, somehow I thought my consciousness would be less and
that nature would take over more. People are now walking, jogging by, men in suits and I feel
their caution as they approach behind and slow, my body ushers them on, aware not threatening.
Mostly men on their own having made a conscious decision to do this (enter my sacred space,
prove it not to be sacred, nothing going on, see..) I like the joggers, there is something
(the physicality of our actions) which means that we are in some way bonded (this is our park?)
Lost again, slip into an unconscious space, sunlight fades in for a minute or so and then away.
Feeling safer, more at ease moving into the park, deeper in. My body relaxes more, Movements
quieten although aware of more and more people as I come towards the cross-roads. A boy
walks past and this time I feel a gush of air as he moves by, it pushes into me strongly, and passes
as he does, maybe it was just a breeze. Suddenly I'm in range of Ben, more safety, I hear the
periodic click of the shutter. People are standing around, talking and laughing. I'm feeling like
I've had enough. Move past Ben, keep going to an imaginary line. By now it's rush hour.
© Benedict Phillips 1998
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