Wild Awake

We met for lunch, sitting awkwardly on the grass in our suits and eating bought sandwiches. I never considered bought sandwiches to be legitimate picnic food. You seemed edgy, picking out flabby slices of cucumber and tossing them for the pigeons.

Afterwards, standing in the shadow of my offices, you tried to tell me something. It seemed important to you, but I wasn’t listening. I was losing focus.

I looked past the oasis where Peace, descending on a rampant quadriga, was circumnavigated by black cabs and double-decker buses. Up Piccadilly towards the Ritz – we first met there under umbrellas – and the clicking orange lights of cars heading left to Mayfair, towards that sad, dark flat you took opposite the antiques shop. Everything there was too large, too gilt.

I looked back at the park where nature, tamed, was forbidden to spread and spill over its sharp grey boundaries. In there somewhere was the strange, melancholy curve of the Serpentine, where I once took out a boat with a man who wasn’t you and the echoes of freedom, of suffragettes, Morris, Orwell and Marx. In there, horses of decent temperament carried riders around demarcated paths. I could hear their calls.

You squeezed my shoulder nervously, but the cries of the horses were becoming louder, drowning out the blare and rumble of the traffic.

They came down Park Lane, a thundering and crashing of hooves, a stormy sea of manes, with leaves and blossom trailing behind them like banners. They cornered onto Knightsbridge and as they passed by they called out to us, “The fences are not real. We are free! We are free!”

You were still trying to tell me something, but I shook my head. I wasn’t listening.

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