Vertigo by Rocío Prieto Rodríguez

In the distance, a voice, can’t quite get what it says.  The sound waves surrender to the void and get to my ears:  In the corner of the palace they killed a hunchback…

The Bazaar at Constantinople with its vaulted ceiling and its sumptuous carpets; blood starts to seep in, is it the hunchback’s blood?

The rich Chinese opium smokers, the poor ones play the flute for money.  They turn the flute into a pipe.

I need some air.  The bus accelerates and then brakes like a squashed balloon.

A cacophony of students overtakes me.  Her backpack (hunchback?) brown with coloured hearts – Paperchase, the first book of the Chemo Chronicles.

I turn the first corner, all is quiet.  The back of Marble Arch and Lancaster Gate in the early 70s.

I look up and start floating down the stream.  John Maynard Keynes lived here – lots of sixes:  house number 46, he inhabited it from 1916 to 1946.

House in the corner is for sale.  In the corner of the palace they killed a hunchback with the Mexican gold plated guns, beautifully engraved, shining squares, guns that are corners in themselves.

The 1950’s alley, with its lavatorial smell.  The verticals keep caving in.  The karaoke rooms – surrender to the void.

And the poppies keep moving west.  Marching like soldiers:  white, white, white, pale pink, red, one red blurring, disappearing. Listen to the colours of your dream.  The Mexican Drugs enforcement Agency – what a joke!

The last corner; Queens Square, the queen is in her palace.

In the corner of the palace

they killed a hunchback

and in his hump they found

three friars and a student

Meramente jorobante

Meramente, meramente tripitante

With thanks to Tomorrow Never Knows by Lennon and McCartney


About claire collison

Writer, photographer, creative facilitator, and breast cancer survivor, I am currently Artist in Residence at the Women's Art Library (WAL) My first novel was a finalist in the Dundee Book Prize, and my short stories and poetry have appeared in print and online. In 2015 I was awarded second place in the inaugural Resurgence Prize, the world's first eco poetry competition, judged by Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. This blog began as a space for words generated on my walking/writing workshops at the Mary Ward centre in Bloomsbury - Writing the City (WTC). WTC has since grown to include many other venues, including the Museum of Broken Relationships, the Barbican, the River Rom, Southwark Woods, Aylesbury Estate, and most recently, as part of Walking Women festival, An Intimate Tour of Breasts. I have worked with Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, as the recipient of the first Max Reinhardt Literacy Award, designing teaching resources; and for The Photographers' Gallery, helping school children develop visual literacy as part of 'Seeing More Things'. If you would like me to design a workshop or walk for you, please be in touch!
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