As I Write

As I write – mental notes, I am running. Not far. Just along a quiet road, as most roads are, to Dudhope Park, and then around the park. Amongst bird songs, and over grass so thick it nearly trips me up. Listening to the faint, faraway sound of a train, like some ancient prisoner dragging his chains. I run and run and become aware of a longer run, years ago.

I ran by a railway line, pure blue sky above. Behind a ramshackle fence, there was a sudden clatter of tons of train passing. Each carriage zooming by in a blur of windows with figures seated. Ra-ta-ta- tat! Ra-ta-ta-tat! Until it was gone, but I remained, running in the quieter air left behind. Running along by dull low buildings on my right; and on my left, beyond the now empty railway track, a busy road, and cars and lorries humming a strange tune – an endless war between harmony and dissonance.  

I ran through the docks. Glimpsing big squares of water and infinite sparkling; and boats at rest here and there; some as massive as the sleeping multi storey block of flats I’d left far behind. On, on, past conglomerations of gas tanks and shining, crisscrossed masses of pipes. Cranes kept a dignified, giraffe-like watch on their wild domain of petrol- smelling industrial jungle. On and on, my feet pounded on the tarmac, my breathing as rhythmic as another, long train passing. A cyclist appeared on the wide path – an expanding dot.  Soon, he was passing me by – in a blur of tyres, whirring, a nod and a grin.

I ran by a hut with CAFE written on it. A wooden box by the side of the vast wide road which stretched to a hazy nowhere-land. I turned to stare at the hut as I ran by it.  A shack, once blown up into the sky by a tornado in the Wizard of Oz, and now dumped, on this road to nowhere. Long ago and always now.

My breathing stayed strong, proud of itself. I ran on and on, past other parts of nowhere and everywhere. My trainers pounded a path along by the River Tay.  The broad waters were deeply blue and resplendent with a matching, lighter sky; and the river was decorated here and there with tiny white triangles. Seagulls called out loudly, but their cries were sometimes swallowed by a greater loudness of another train rattling by. Runners approached and passed – some with comradely nods; and others oblivious of anything around them, glaring into the distance of a timed result.  Cyclists, picnics, dogwalkers. Small dogs, big dogs – all wagging their tails, delighted to be allowed to take their people for a walk. A white and grey blur of Scottie dog snuffling in thick grass.

The sky grew larger the further I ran. Larger and more brightly blue. An impossible vastness hovering above me. Made for amazement.  

And then, I was back running in the smaller world I’d grown used to. The sky above the park was just as blue and bright but smaller now. I had run my park circuit and it was time to go home, to a yet smaller universe. Rooms, books, a garden, a cat. And soon, coming through the door like a bird flown down from the sky – Isobel. Bringing with her the same sense I felt on those longer running days. A sense of infinite wonder and running or flying through a pure blue sky.

Harvey Duke

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