The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell
Pain, it appears, has no appointed programme; nor consequent sleep any scheduled assignation. Alive (afterwards) to the fact that I had spent too much of my day in writing – itself a diversion from the devouring distress of a deepening migraine, gnawing at my left eyeball like some resolute rodent after rotting fruit – it was, however, the subsequent clumsiness – born of fading concentration; my proprioception misty and maladroit (even at the best of times) – that was the crucial moment’s mainspring: an instant unwinding, a lightning strike cascading through my stricken, confounded limbs; rapidly unfurling its coercion, before reconvening all its clout, condensed, at the accustomed spot, speck… the spike where my circuits were sabotaged so very long ago.
What hath night to do with sleep?
No manner of oscitant opioid, lethargic anxiolytic, or torpid tricyclic would rid me of my wretchedness and wakefulness: an expected early night failing fast; successive struggles satisfying me that the only remedy – however short-lived – should be yet more distraction: my boots, recuperating by the front door, cajoling me, inveigling exercise and exploration; demanding to get back on my feet.
This horror will grow mild, this darkness light
I therefore leave home twenty minutes before civil dawn (03:59) – grasping at the moon’s parallel departure… – dressed for the colourblind autumn rending green leaves from their inchoate berths, littering the roads like so much election ballyhoo; crushing cow-parsley hard against hedges, trampling verges into ditches; disseminating twigs like so many indiscriminate spillikins; branches, like amputated limbs, awkward, jagged, raw, in their infractions. Never once do I remove my gloves; nor unzip my coat (covering fleece, long-sleeved shirt, and obligatory muffler) – my unprotected face tanned leather by the rough, biting, south-westerly gusts.
Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light
The trail up Windmill Hill is nearly healed of its deep, drought-driven, Giant’s Causeway-designed divides: the past day’s torrents turned fixative; the weekend’s runners tamping the outcome flat. Not so much mud, now, as an uneasy slime between the trodden wheat-stalks (now with ears to hear): constantly outsmarting my inconstant feet. The only sound, the hectoring wind: relentlessly scrunching foil amid my hearing aids, and rustling the burgeoning stalks. The mill itself clanks in objection, and groans in distressed paralysis: its urge to be free, to produce, to labour and be useful, quashed by man’s misappropriation of its merit and motive.
Solitude sometimes is best society
Beyond the hill, I am greeted by a large badger: at once nose-inquisitive and eye-dismissive of me and my purpose. It leaps lethargically, elegantly, from its well-worn hedge-hide, over the verdant ditch; lollops across the tarmac. One last stare of disdain, and it merges back into the customary camouflage of light and shade. I am naught but a passing nuisance. Overhead, the sheering air plays puppet-master still: a red kite forced backwards; before twisting, cutting free across the rolling hills.
Awake, arise or be for ever fall’n
Daybreak (04:47) – and the flickering shadow of an elusive hare catches my eye’s curve; marks my journey’s midpoint. On the southern horizon, a roiling red roll of angry cumuli. I pull my hat harder onto my swept head, second-guessing its arrival. Minutes later it has dissipated; and the sky slowly empties of cloud – becoming blue with brightness; china-patterned with pocket drifts of white. Beneath, newly-shorn sheep lament their undress: huddling hard, like the last drifts of snow, against the hedgerows and largest tree-trunks.
Farewell happy fields
Honking – the blare of a bewilderment of Canada geese, interwoven above Windmill Hill – forces my gaze upwards again. A pigeon, supersonic with the powering wind, scythes and steers past me like an oversize swift. Steeping down through the contours, I head for home: content. The pain remains… – naught but a passing nuisance.