A Mostly Untrue Story About A Mostly Real Place Called Hilly Fields

…so a body was found here last April – foreign, arm-scarred and illegal, child become man become corpse become cadaver – and I return again and again: these are, let’s face it, fields which are hilly, these are quiet, past-sugared fields which stick hard town to soft country like unwanted kisses, these are holy fields which once offered a bold cover-version of hope – autumnal rhythms and soft mists and tight desires and wet socks – and they lead, if you follow me, through the woods to the viaduct, the viaduct we called Fourteen Arches for reasons that escape me and I shiver with now echoes of then voices bouncing and booming and dubbing and rising as the pissed trains pass above us in the sober rain and, almost certainly, my soul will be found here one day soon

if I have one, and my dear, dead heart will rise here again, sing up to the graffiti’d bricks and the modest sky, my past greeting my future (as it once did) with an adolescent mumble and a reluctant handshake and when I was really young here, the quiet oaks did ‘stern and parental’ so, so well, so well that when I’d reached the salt-grey stream by the bandstand I’d sneak a look back up the hill and I could only just make out a house sitting pretty next to the church, the gingerbread house of the girl I never really spoke to, badly-drawn dodgy flats and the cold, squinting sun leering behind it and I’d blink twice and there it was gone as my old man used to say and I’d turn back, turn and walk into the woods where two years ago I came here with a woman, a strange, beautiful-to-me woman who, a century before, had sat up a tree near the bandstand, reading prize-won horror stories and stuff by Sylvia Plath

or someone similar, at the very same time as I was booklessly wandering the damp grass beneath, each of us waiting for the rickety red bus out of childhood, each of us oblivious to the other, each of us already old and knowing that those buses always come in threes and, OK, the thought I may have passed underneath her as she sat up there is warm and unbearable but – you guessed it – I never looked up, she never looked down and now these are still fields which are still hilly, these are still fields which still defy and still beckon and did I mention a body was found here in April, foreign and illegal

and yes, yes, you have to believe me: it was a body, foreign and illegal and – mostly – mine.