Read introduction

This may not, on first reading, seem to make much sense. But in fact it’s a one-off raw recollection and reminiscence of my younger days, in my twenties, as I lived in Belfast, on a certain tree-lined street. Now as a man in my 50s I remember how, in my twenties I struggled with some things that required me to, lets just say, leave behind. Debris from childhood. Guilt. It was affecting my relationships as a young adult. I was an angry young man, angry with myself, angry with God, angry with anyone who got close.
As it happens, there opened, for a brief window, late one summer evening, a view of future, a view of myself that was counter-intuitive. It didn’t last of course, at the time, but while it did…oh gosh…it was good.

Walking on Water

Fdf5205c-8b5b-4da8-a6dc-63fe28d680a9by Billy J. Stewart12 May 2014

It’s not that I have anything against the youth, no,
They can’t help how they feel, all victimised and raw,
Full of broody solace and lemon grass, frothing at the mouth.
Ah yes youth, oh to remember.
No, it’s just, well, OK,
They’re not as wise as they need to be, like, not at all,
Not like the wisdom that comes from making a living through hard days,
From slipping down the serrated edge of life.
Days of making a fiddler’s fool of one’s over inflated ego.
I disregard my own self from this of course, being ever the sage!
I jest, methinks.
But I suppose, I mean, I think…
And in mulling over old times I blink, and the old mind,
Is up to its old tricks…

It was a Humphrey Bogart sort of a night,
As I recall, an African Queen, oh yes,
Dark and moody and full of the whiff of cigarettes and diesel,
And water.
I never knew water had a smell til that night.
I stood against the doorway, in off the street,
Out of the rain, but not quite.
Actually, really not at all, I soaked it.
To either side on the avenue, standing tall as sentries,
The Lime trees, filtering precipitation down leafy fingers.
I didn’t mind the rain, it was warm against my skin,
Washing, soothing, touching,
Gentle as a lover, caressing,
Better than any aftershave salve.
My black hair lay in wet streaks down my forehead,
Drips rolling off the end of my nose, not that I could really notice,
Other than the tickle of the trickle.
I watched the drops gravitate, then explode on the ground,
Melting into little rivers and lakes,
Cumulating in huge puddles,
Reflecting the far side, in the orange glow of sodium lights.
Someone had dropped a glove and as I stood there watching
It sailed past, down the gutter, clogging the grate.
Where was its fellow, I thought..?
Then catching myself on I wiped the wet from my eyes.
In the distance all I could hear was the hiss.
And here the gurgle of rapids.
Everyone had gone, it was like
I was alone in the world.
Abandoned here in this sodden scene, but hey,
I didn’t care anymore.
It had gone.
It had really gone and I was finally free to breathe my own air.
I closed my eyes and tilted my head up,
Daring the storm, through gritted teeth.
Ah yes, give it all, do your worst!
Then a car passed, dragging me back to the present,
And I knew I was not alone.
Its lights were dull in the thick falling sheets of water,
Sparkling like two misted diamonds,
Bright as...two white hens,
Which isn’t really bright at all, if you follow.
I watched it slowly drive off up the avenue, round the corner,
Gone.
Yes, and it was then I finally knew, beyond doubt, who I was.
This terrifying awakening just…
Wasn’t so frightening now, and for the first time in…well…as long as I could recall,
I felt at ease with…
Myself.

Look, I’m all for having choices, seeing the big picture,
I’m not against that at all, it’s just, well,
It just gets a tad confusing as you go along, and then
Looking back,
The Pillar of Salt, bitter, gritty, after-taste, dirty,
All this living in the past, full of what-ifs and if-onlys.
But now I retraced my steps back to the street,
Walking on water.
It was still clear in my head, that feeling,
That sweet moment of release.
That was when I learned for the first time,
First off,
The truth about the game.
That I was not to blame.
You know it still hits me like a sledge, now and then,
Considering the fact that I’ve had to revise everything else, but not that.
And now, closing my eyes I can see them,
Melting away to the night,
Shadows, but not with residual fear.
Yes, then I knew, then it was clear,
It was over, I was free.
And boy oh boy, but it felt good.