My dog, off the lead, flies through the gap where the gate should be. The barbed wire fencing constricts our journey out of the town, tight to the sodden, withering Wyre banking. The faint scents of the early afternoon prep in the kitchen of the Indian takeaway, catches my nose at first, before arching further round the hairpin like pathway, where the butcher’s pastries and pies, hit with a wallop of local pride.
The pace is slow, I’ve floated this way before. The English Oak, it’s failing arms stretched with a wild welcome, branches slowly unfurling the season with each hungover pilgrimage. Deathly piles, rot at its base, curling in agony, sweating, flaking and longing me to dip under the barbs which hustles me forwards, along this, one of many tributaries from town to country. Eventually, I’m whipped in; I become nothing in this space, an observer, gawping within the gaps of tight growth rings in slow Oaks, shifting and pumping in the cambium channels under vulnerable bark, with the fluid that runs from root to tip.
These melancholic meanders ripen between ivy claimed fence-ways, in the sodium scorched alleyways and in the recoil and recall of yet another fading midnight. In the shivers of a headphone moment, I smile and wrap myself briefly in this town’s steady purr. Both connected and disconnected, but always, the steady drone; like a factory, rumbling away unknown produce for a faraway place, indifferent to its destination.
This is how the town moves and mutates. It shapes itself and meets its hosts through the channels in and out; where almost nobody is looking. Kicking and crunching over a strata of a sycamore’s winter sediments, then past the monolithic stone gas marker post, weeping and part-shattered; with a bullseye of penetrating yellow. A place’s masks, gowns and former guises, fester in the mulch and hummus, as patient as the prolonged disfigurement of long tortured limestone pavements.
This omnipresent mystery is magnificent; I cling to its greedy fibres, rushing like roots through ginnels and courtyards, illuminated in LED; entrances and exits, skimming over chip boxes, parking tickets, tin foil pie casings and all the other excrement of the place, in this, its very windpipe.
Returning through the redundant gateway, dog on the lead, disobedient treads scarring the exit’s muddy apex. The sky is gurgling and I’m jostled with an atmospheric weight, unbound and back to my burrow; as the walk unfurls behind me like a tornado as it detaches from the ground in iridescent wisps of dematerialisation.