Night Walking (5)

Wimbledon Dada show

For me it is a brave thing, this night walking in the dark. I’m scared you see, of that dark, that is. At least, I am until I’m out there, in it. From the inside it looks impossible. I cannot, I cannot imagine being out in it. And then, when I walk out, it is alright. The air is so alive, so fresh, it fills my nostrils with life. The wind, the rain, it is all part of the vigour of life. Yes, the rain hurts, it pricks my face, but it is vital. As is the sea. Each day it is different. Ever changing and yet constant.

The sea birds mass on the shore. I see them every morning. Sometimes they face the sea, other days they look inland. Equally spaced, they stand together but slightly apart, in silent communion. Sharing a common animation, aliveness. Waiting. Waiting for morning.

The other morning a similar mass of Chinese students walking down Llanbadarn Road. It was 4.30 am. What had they been doing? They were wide awake. Some were on phones, others were talking. Were they going to somewhere or coming from something? That’s it you see, there is so much life that can go unmissed. If one pays attention it can seem almost magical. A man opening his door, the yellow light of his porch flooding the blackness.

Sometimes the rooks murmur like the starlings. It is more of mess though. It is as if they have been suddenly chucked up into the sky, ragged and unkempt. Some sit by the parked cars by the harbour. They have learnt to do so. They wait, wait for the scraps that may be hurled from a wound-down window. They wait patiently, the wind ruffling their feathers. When nothing is forthcoming they hop away, a little disconsolate.

I don’t know what I can do, so I ask him. He has no answers either. I ask it if troubles him. Thirty thousand. I cannot imagine such a number. To loose everything, the whole fabric of one’s life. How does that feel? I want to stand alongside them. I walk in the wind and rain and pull myself inside myself for warmth. Can they do that? Is there always hope? Is there? What do I wish for them, those refugees and indeed the homeless here, the man in the shelter? What do I wish for them? A resolution, food to eat, warmth, safety, a chance, hope, peace and the grace to cope with what life has brought them. Is that enough? Can I do more?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.