Saturday, April 6, 2013


My Dad has this fear about Studley Park Road. Whether it be turning right into it or simply walking across it to reach the bus stop, the threat of getting rumbled by traffic gives my Dad the heebee-jeebees. It's gotten to the point where I'm challenged about it whenever I leave the house and it's always the same conversation. Don't run across Studley Park Road. Walk down to the lights. You're wearing black. Because I'm always wearing black, I always ask why wearing black is even relevant. Cars can't see you if you're wearing black. I always insist that black is not a cloak of invisibility. He claims it is... and then I leave the house, walk up the street and run across Studley Park Road.

On this recent occasion, as much as I wanted to, I could not run across Studley Park Road. It was peak hour. I stood tentatively by the gutter, waiting for a gap in traffic that could only be described as gapless. It just wasn't happening. After a couple of moments, I followed my Dad's advice and walked down to the lights, activating my RunKeeper app to ensure no distance went unrecorded. It was warm and I was happy, having spent the afternoon laughing with my writing friends. I wore a pink and cream dress and marvelled at my punctuality, it never used to be like me to make good time. It was half the reason I always chose to run for the bus.

Halfway down to the lights, I stopped, having spotted something in the concrete. It was neither a name or a paw print but a fragment of a poem by W.B. Yeats, recorded in slashed capital letters in the wet concrete:

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart's grown brutal from the fare - W.B. Yeats.

At risk of missing my bus entirely, I felt compelled to read the faint markings over and over. I quickly decided to get out my phone to take a photograph of it, to later examine on my sunset ride to the city. I couldn't help but smile when I marvelled at its surreal relevance, how it seemed to touch upon the debilitating of side-effects of fantasy, of possibility and hope. It's strange when you realise that the chasm between what you want and what you can have is not really all that great. The prospect of having all you ever imagined becomes intoxicating. Dreaming of how it could all fall apart becomes exhausting.

I forwarded the image to my writing friends that night. My friend Anne replied with the full 1922 poem, The Stare's Nest by my Window. She wrote, I wondered what Yeats was about, thought it could have something to do with the occupation of Ireland by the English, but it seems that it was about the civil war in 1922, after Michael Collins signed a treaty with England for home rule, which ended up with the provence of Ulster staying in English hands... It all started coming back, Michael Collins and √Čamon de Valera. It all seemed so bitter, bloody and brutal and so totally removed from Studley Park.

I wonder who wrote it. I wonder what they could have meant by it.

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