I live here. Once cluster in a sausage string of villages and industrial estates. Feed in coal dust. Washed by impromptu streams. Banded by iron oxide bracken. The weave of back alleys. Sewn together by the river. Iron and concrete. Walls heaving. Dog shit. Carpet rollies cupped by the valley. I smell our confusion dissipating.
One thousand building styles clattered together. Washing in the sun colour hung wet. Clattering curbs. Smoke from chimneys eases upwards. This is where Moo and I first pushed out into the new world. A year ago with leaves crackling in circles. Swirl and flow. The smell as autumn settles. Mud disruption, sofa sweat, back gates with non-sequential numbers on borrowed doors.
Past the café with steamed up windows. Clouds shopping in the local Spa. Friendly faces. Another package weighed at the till. The taste of Smarties shared. I hold the door for a man in a beanie. He leans like a stone on his stick, wheezing.
Over the river. Burn marks up the rugby club wall and playground toy re-spray black and yellow. The slide is always wet in a patch of green. Terraces run on. Scrambled by fresh tarmac. Or relief road burrows between houses. Splashing puddles up the high stone walls. Traffic lights hold back excavation machinery and cranes. The sound of a pile driver in my gut. Services disrupted.
A white scratch in a blue sky.
We never escape. We never try.