Sunday, 8 March 2015

When Night Falls

One of the most interesting exhibitions at Blackpool Grundy Art Gallery of recent times was the Haunted House experience, which climaxed in an evening of poetry and short stories courtesy of the Dead Good Poets – the word Dead never being so apt. 

As one of the performers, it was uncanny reciting a ghost story in an atmospheric space itself reputed to be haunted by an artist past; one whose very paintings lined the walls like windows into a darker world. A shadow existence we cannot consciously see, yet there is the feeling it is watching us. 

Funny old world when you think about it. We have split the atom, landed on the moon, and mapped the universe. Yet, there is nothing guaranteed to instil fear than the good old fashioned thing that goes bump in the night. Because, of course, we know not what that thing is. And the most primal of instincts is to retreat from that we cannot rationalise. 

One of the most intriguing speculations regarding noises in the night is one I heard offered in the classic TV serial Quatermass and the Pit. When the sceptical Professor Quatermass finds his scientific logic challenged by a series of apparitions and poltergeist events, he reasons

“…surely it’s possible for…for ghosts, let’s use the word… to be phenomena that were badly observed and wrongly interpreted. 

With that in mind, I conceived the following verses.

When Night Falls 

For Living 
When night falls
Air breaths silently
Gravitating cold 

When night falls
The knocking begins
Dowsing for fear 

When night falls
It takes my name
And whispers it back 

Sometimes she appears
Then fades away
Like breath on a mirror 

Intruder mine
Be gone from me
Out vile spectre
 

For Dead
When night falls
I walk alone
Seeking consort 

When night falls
I send words
That don’t reach him 

When night falls
My fingers seek his
But never connect 

Oh, to touch
The radiance of flesh
A rhythm of pulse 

Why wish me away?
Why does he resent?
Can’t we be friends?
 
Barry McCann
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