I Trust My Feet to Lead Me

I trust my feet to lead me where I need to go. Dusk. Rainwater soaks through the holes in my old shoes. Yellow light bleeds from the ceilings of these sealed suburban houses, crawls through the windows and dies shaking the gates, never reaching the pavement where my feet lead me onwards, forwards, soaking up puddles, steering me through grey waters, toes clenched, determined.

I trust my feet to lead me. Motion. Momentum. Slugs and leaves streak the street. Hood over my eyes, sky over my hood, I pass no one. These familiar streets, these streets that are known and mapped and travelled. Feet, carry me. Feet, find the threshold, take me beyond. Roundabouts and sickly grass verges, grass verging on yellow, grass verging on dead. Cars tremble in garages, huddle in fear of water. I light a cigarette, bent, wet-mouthed, not breaking step. I cup it in my damp left hand. Grey pavement, grey sky; I suck grey into my lungs and expel it greyer. Greyness lives in me, lives on me, like mould, spreading, parasitic. Feet, lead me to colour. Grey birds roost in the roofs. I throw my cigarette butt into the road; it is swallowed and lost.

My feet lead me onwards, around corners, breath snagged on tangled half-hope, then exhaled in bitter clouds over the ever-familiar, the ever-known. Street signs name the same town, street signs flash grey eternal home. All roads lead to walls, all roads are dead ends. Houses rise up like mocking teeth. Hedges are thorny and will not be scaled. All roads a blind fumbling circuit of the maze, all edges and no centre.

In the distance I hear the rushing hum of a motorway, like a river heard from over the mountains, from over sheer rain-strafed walls of coral. Unreachable. Feet, please. Lead me. From behind the endless draped veil of net curtains, the grey faces of everyone I have ever known. Trees loom uniform in the new dark. Circles, circuits. The map spins and shakes me. I pass and re-pass the same grey litter bin. Blisters swell and burst. Rain plasters hood plasters hair plasters face. I am rain-blind in these same streets. I do not stop. Night falls, is held by the weak arms of yellow streetlamps. My body strains towards the unknown. I trust my feet to lead me where I need to go.

Nicky Marsh