A soundtrack – for those sitting in front of the tiles in Postman’s Park by Gail Golding

Sip your cardboard cappuccino. Feel the smooth warm cup against your lip as you sit taking your break, eyes glazed, dazed by last night’s late. Rest your thighs on the cracked wooden bench, split open to the seeping damp, your back against the wall. As the cold penetrates through your skin, raise your eyes to watch the people criss-cross through the park, heads bent, feet-watching as they wander out of sight.

As you twist and turn your fingers in your grey-suited pocket feeling for the cigarette packet, the tubed lighter, notice how two ducks wade across the soft mound of grass, oblivious to the bodies that lie beneath. Or the plump robin that sideways-glances, one-eye-watches, hesitates as you pull your hand out, jerk your fingers, fidget your head. See it hop deeper under the bush’s leaf-cover then fly through the railings behind. When your thumb flicks the lighter, sparks a flame, notice the gravestone-clumps that line the flowerbeds, pushing through the earth like bulbs thrusting past winter’s path, new shoots unwrapping ready for spring.

When you’ve noticed all this, turn on your seat. Turn to see the tiles behind your head. Glimpse at the Royal Doulton blue on white.

Feel the pulse of the train rumble under the ground beneath your feet as it shudders to a halt, knocking Daniel Pemberton off balance while he pushes another to safety. Imagine his bones crushed under the metal weight, blood spewing from his mouth, mixing with broken words, farewell fragments fading as the shadow passes over his eyes.

Allow the thick vapour of paraffin to fill your nostrils, choke in your throat as Elizabeth Coghlam blazes past, carrying the fire beyond the park perimeter where it engulfs her. Watch a flame slither along a strand of her hair like cable to dynamite. Witness the faces that stare as her tinged flesh melts to the ground – faces that silently scream out, asking how it is that they are left behind.

Watch from the edge of the Lincolnshire quicksand. Let it lap at your feet, its tongue licking its lips. See its wide mouth open as Arthur Strange and Mark Tomlison leap in to rescue screaming schoolgirls. Note how they splutter and spit as they sink down its throat, air gurgling, bubbling until their last breath expires.

Next time you sit here, head calculating how many minutes it will take to smoke a cigarette or down a coffee, or how many breaks you can have before the end-of-day-drink, stretch your finger tips toward the shining tiles, feel the blood surge in your veins, blink at the prick that touches the back of your eyes. Let them remind you how lucky you are to be here.

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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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