Wednesday, May 23, 2007

walking to the prison, salt mountain orange lit at night

In this winter night the trees were sentries either side of the road, charcoal drawn on dark-blue paper of the sky washed over from one horizon to the other.

There was a bunch of crows arranged around the lowest branches of one tree (someone knows better than me the name of the tree, and what the collective noun for crows is). They called out in the way they have (like they have smoked cigarettes from birth), saying something I would not understand because I am not a crow, or "never more, fuck you". I walked past on the road and the crows called after me. It was too dark to see them clearly (black rags fanned out), only to imagine them looking down their dirty beaks at me.

The prison was orange lit with sodium lamps on tall steel poles above the moire-patterned chain link fence (because there are two layers and they parallax as you walk by). I walked past the prison officers' houses and the kennels where they kept the stinky hunting dogs, past the council depot and there was the great road-salt mountain. I ducked through a torn gap in the fence, and crouched-ran across the floodlit concrete into the shadow of the salt.

I ran up the shallow side of the salt escarpment and leapt off the steep, and landed half way down in a welter of purple translucent rock salt - which went up my trouser legs and wedged in my boots coldly. I lay for a moment and looked at the night sky, seeing only the brightest stars against the orange floodlights' fog.

Beyond the council depot was the shed show-field, a garden centre that specialised in wooden huts and green and white plastic sacks of compost or coal. The road running the length of the garden centre's extent was marked out with white-painted stones stolen from the disused iron ore quarry up the road. So I knew in the darkness to the right of me was an acre of creosoted sheds, as I counted off the white stones.

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