Walking away the past

I'm going to put away the past
into its necessary folder
but not just yet.

I'm going to walk our walks
by myself, with her
lest I forget

The other day I asked to be dropped off by Dee's sister and brother-in law at the farm shop at the foot of Bedfield Lane, Headbourne Worthy, near Winchester. The shop (and now cafe) had prospered since twelve years ago when we lived close by in Laundry cottage. Full of Hampshire Christmas cheer it was: rich cakes and confections, new cut baby firs, exotic coffees, money changing hands, high pitched voices over-talking, keen to overcome for the moment all those pernicious Christmas anxieties in clouds of well-intentioned goodwill to All Mankind. Well, perhaps not all.

I walked the three mile pavement

once a quiet country lane
into Winchester

Oh, how she'd walked there, looking
like a summer's day in winter ;
my lady, bless her.

Motor vehicles of all desciptions roared by, inches from my right hand shoulder,.vortexing the fallen leaves of autumn gone. Of life gone by. Looking out over the fields to my left I could see the riverside pathway so loved by our dogs for its sudden surprises; mallard, rabbits. And so loved by us for its quiet calm, glimpses of speckled trout finning the shallows beneath that ricketty footbridge, field of giant sunflowers, heads turned always pleading on to mother gold. I passed on my right the little side lane where once Lawrence Olivier had lived with the lady star of Gone With The Wind. Yes, Vinienne Leigh; ravishing beauty but mentally ill. There is no such thing in this world as something for nothing.

When reaching the city I sought out places
once such a centre part of us
and of our lives

The cafes, shops, pubs and streets, speaking
of things gone by and things to come
the lows, the highs

It had started to rain. My kness and hips, unused to hard concrete felt in need of a rest. I ducked into a Pizza Express, the one almost opposite our first Winchester office close by the river Itchen (several hundred pounds a day should you feel like fly-casting for one of its 'wild' brown trout.) The bruschetta with muchrooms tasted good, the lasagne less so. I paid up and left. No-one here would miss me. Neither would Dee and I miss it - not any more. Walking up the hill I passed through scurrying crowds of well shopping-bagged folk and by market stalls lit up and dressed up for their mammonomic Yuletide.God rest ye merrie gentlefolk!

My in-laws were waiting in The Eclipse
where I felt old Shakespeare
and the friends we once  met.

I'm going to put away the past
into its necessary folder
but, please, not just yet.

Tomorrow I would awa' to the Highlands, there to walk our self-named walks once the ridiculous detritus of modern day post-death has been cleared away to the satisfaction of State. The secret river, the hornbeams, the caves, beaches four and five, the witch-rock, the chanterelle, the anvil, the waterwheel and the rest. She will be with me, I know, as she was with me in Winchester. And afterwards the past will be safely tucked away into its dusty folder and I shall be purged enough to face the future. Not 'how will I be?', but, 'what is it that I shall be trying to do?'.

For  those 'I's please read 'we'. Imagination or not, I feel her presence yet.


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