As part of the MA Wild Writing at Essex I’ve taken a module on memory maps and psychogeography; unaware that it would involve a short writing session at the end of each session. The below were all written in class.
My office in Battersea is adjacent to a bus depot and downwind from a coffee factory. Outside, the air burns with diesel and blackened toast. Standing by the window of the first floor kitchen I can look down on the spiked fence and gravel that separates the walls by ten feet. Sometimes a fox sleeps there, curled in the shadow of bus garage wall. He’s a soft clenched fist, an orange ouroboros. The 9 to 6 passes for weeks without sight of his indifferent body. When I see him I’m elsewhere; the backyards and gardens that he’s slipped from.
Convoy’s Wharf, site of the old Deptford dockyard. The point at which concrete connects with the cold grey lap of the Thames. They were going to turn it into homes, 3,000 of them, stacked one on top of each other like shipping containers. The site lies on the operating table, its veins and arteries cracking the pavement. The plants that find home here are outcasts: nettles, wild rocket, queen anne’s lace. Buddleia waves purple heads. The last building is large as an airport hanger, church-quiet. It could hold a prayer were it not for the windows, systematically punctured, letting the sky fall in.
Curtains open on laburnum, masking half a square of sky, oak, high grass before it’s hay. There used to be more of this. Now perhaps two spring days a year, two hours in two spring days. Time is marked with yellow flowers. Every minute since would have been different, if I’d opened to bricks.
Breath collects on the window and covers the clock tower. Fried chicken air freshener is piped in at unpredictable intervals. Years of other people have clotted the carpet. The room is mine, not mine. Each monthly payment is balanced against the city, its glass angles and growing bulk. We are weightless here.