It’s so quiet out here in the small hours, just the song of robins, the larks and the sound of my feet on the wet pavement for company, it’s so very English.
I love this city, for all its problems and all its iniquities London is my home, maybe if I had ever lived anywhere else I wouldn’t think of it in that way but I haven’t, so I do.
I think of this big, generous city like a big, generous person, busy, complex. changing, one who makes room for everyone and everything; every race, every creed, every torment and every joy and then sleeps peacefully with the gods at night.
I stopped to watch a train passing under the bridge this morning, a speeding promise that weighed over a hundred and eighty tons hurtling through the wet night on its way to somewhere, I watched the signal lights reflected on the carriages as the train passed them, red one way, green the other, flash, flash, flash green then red, green then red, no return, no return.
As the train disappeared down the track I imagined myself on board, a passenger sitting in the last seat in the last carriage, all this behind me, on my way to a different place to be a different person, and though the train was travelling fast, I was perfectly still.
I have come to love being outdoors at night, I love the solitude, space and anonymity, I love the freedom to be myself and the absence of expectations from anybody else.
In the darkness things become visible that you just don’t see in the light of day, an entrance hall to some flats filled with fluorescent light, a solitary lit window high up on the side of a dark building, a security light illuminating a side alley, when I am alone in the night they all become thresholds to a world of wonder.
I have worked as a psychotherapist for nearly forty years now and though I have never met one in the course of my work I have heard and read about people who are enlightened, when I was younger I hoped that one day I might count myself among them.
I thought that if I could achieve an enlightened state I would no longer have to suffer, but now I believe that the difference between somebody who is enlightened and an ordinary person is that the enlightened person has found something inside that helps them to bear their suffering without blame and turn it into compassion.
It’s the same source that enables trees to fall without complaint, helps soldiers find peace on the battlefield and compels me to write these poems as I walk.
4.00am and the streets are deserted, nothing but hard frost on the pavement sparkling in the lamplight.
Somewhere behind me I hear a car, the petrol engine murmuring and then the sound of the tyres on the road, disappearing into the distance.
A fox crosses the pavement right in front of me intent on some purpose that has consumed her fear, quite unconcerned by my presence.
As I step through the park gates a passenger jet passes overhead in a self-important clamour of flashing lights and screaming engines.
I walk past the three plastic ducks set on car springs in the playground, past the monument to Olaudah Equiano, across the bridge over the ponds and up the steep path to the exit past an open suitcase lying empty on the compacted snow.
I start to think about how much longer I will be able to walk in the mornings like this, my knees aren’t what they used to be and I’ll miss it when I’m unable to come out anymore, then I hear beauty’s lovely voice whispering and I know that all that matters is now.
Lost and found About 15 years ago my life was beautiful and filled with hope, then it became ugly and then uglier, I don’t know why, I thought of reasons, I thought of nothing but reasons, none of them kind, but I didn’t really know why and even if I had I doubt that it would have helped very much, somewhere I knew that all I could do was sit it out.
It wasn’t all dark, I got glimpses of beauty through the trees, in the birdsong and the howling of the foxes and I thought that was it, that was how it would be until I passed from this world but now something has changed and beauty has become my companion again.
I still don’t know why I abandoned her all those years ago and it doesn’t matter since have found her again, now as we walk together I know that my life is not in my hands and it never has been, I just thought it was.
What will happen to my poetry when I take all the seeking out, all the images of journeys, struggles, trains and pathways, when I just want to be where I am because that’s where God is?
What will happen when my breath is company enough and I no longer need cynicism to protect me from the pain of my unrealized dreams or shadows to hide them in?
Then I will write about the way you dip your spoon in your soup, the way you purse your lips to cool it and close your eyes when you taste it, I will write about how I feel your pleasure and your joy when you do because then I will be completely in love.
This morning was dark, cold and frosty with a perfectly clear sky,| as I walked over the railway bridge I stopped abruptly, turned and looked up so I could take the moon by surprise.
But the moon took me by surprise instead, so clear, so sharp and unequivocal, there’s something intimate and exciting about the light of a full moon on a dark and frosty morning, it’s like taking a sip of vintage champagne, sparkling, mysterious and intoxicating.
I passed a woman on my early morning walk today and as I did I said, ‘Morning’. She looked up from her little dog who was peeing against a tree and said, ‘Mornin’, then we went our separate ways, she with her dog and me with my thoughts.
I walked on, over the railway bridge, past the purple buddleia growing out of the cracked pointing between the bricks, I looked down the silver tracks then up to the sky, it was beautiful, soft and gentle, gold and pink under light clouds and so peaceful, so very peaceful, just to walk in that light was healing.
I paused for a moment and felt sorry that I had missed the opportunity to share more with the woman and her dog.
As I made my way home over the iron footbridge further down the track to my great good fortune I met the woman with the dog again, I wasn’t going to miss my chance a second time so I nodded to the sky and said, ‘Beautiful sky this morning’. A broad smile spread across her face and she said, ‘And a beautiful moon last night’.