John Clare Writings

Moment; Round Midnight

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Around midnight I stop writing for a bit and gaze off through the plane trees at the lights on the hillside that is the leading edge of the city here. It is darkest under the arches of the viaduct, where there are squatters who have tents. I have heard a woman screaming in the day and also recently in the night. Sometimes the police come.  I hear no sound of anyone being beaten, which is something.

There is a siren. It is in pursuit, slowing for a moment out beyond my glass front door… No it is the steel grille door that is closed. Now it goes around the corner into Bridge Street toward Glebe Point Road back up the hill behind me rather than the other hill toward the Harbour Bridge. Then silence.

Then a man walking fast and yelling, and a woman following him and screeching something. He reaches the stretch of footpath just outside my front door, so I hear him yell, “Leave me alone! Don’t worry about me! Worry about your own man.” Then they are gone around the corner. There is a police car somewhere out there now and I can hear the gremlin voice of a  policeman talking on the radio, disembodied, not quite decipherable. A tiny echo that is not an echo. Peace now.

Not for long. This is quite strange. A number of police women cross the road and advance on my gate holding intensely bright  torchlights in the air. I open the door and ask what’s happening.They shine the torches up into the trees and shrub beside my house on the hill that borders the light rail track here where the aqueduct runs out across the park.

“We were told there was a fellow up there threatening to kill himself.” I don’t immediately connect this to the yelling couple. “Can we go through your house to the backyard?” Sure, I tell them, but it is hard to get up there. This high wire netting fence continues behind my house. Now they are not listening. They go round the corner quickly. Something has drawn them away. I look out the back window then go out and look up through the trees and scrub. There are two bright torches on the steep street that borders the back yard outside the wire netting. It all subsides for a while.

But there are still police cars across the road out the front. The voices are all quiet now. They converse quietly. They can see me sitting at my table in the front room, writing. Now it is silent. No, there is quiet talk. Then they are gone.

I will keep you informed.

I decide to play Thelonious Monk’s ‘Round Midnight.This deeply mysterious music evokes a more peaceful place. New York. 

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