Voices in the Dark
He runs along a city street lit up at night. Traffic avoids him even though he matches its speed. His feet zoom but his legs seem joined with only one knee. Some unknown force, Satanic, like shifting gravity, pushes him away from where he wants to go. He tries to stay in control but his speed increases. Panic sickens him. He wants to crash into a building, anything, just to wake up. (Scene change) Wind-whipped but, somehow, in bed, true, now he begs the woman who sleeps next to him to save him but she can’t. Stop me, he cries. Stop me, his voice raw, pathetic. He wakes, feeling full of age, his life so quiet, the trickle of it now, and realizes he has dreamt this type of dream many times before. Because of his obsessive reading he wonders what causes his nocturnal distress. What, of all the trauma of his life is responsible? Is it his deep resentment of stupidity, starting with his loveless parents’? Was it his ill-treatment at their hands, or being abandoned by them while he was still an innocent? Or was it the violence, both received and dished out, in the way violence is passed on? Or guilt for his own desertions? Could it be about how, in his efforts to always avoid unseen potential trouble he actually avoids life itself? Maybe, he reasons, it is the huge amount of alcohol he puts away, often on his own. He thinks, wryly, it could be the novels (all that death lurking in wait) the essays, even those special poems that line the highway of his life like milestones. He suspects it might be the poetry. On this dark night he wants love to come around, to climb the stairs and make its boldness known to the spread-out waiting town and all the waiting people there, the wary, fumbling, guilty, and confused, and those who want their shifting guises excused. When arrow-showers of rain spatter his windows he wonders if the sound shakes their weaving hearts, makes them think of whispered surprises and all the others they might have met. He wants every restless thing that haunts them, niggardly, hidden, bruised, unfair, the dread of being alone, to be conquered by love, because he longs to make another start.
Ian C Smith