The memory lane in Brighton
is not on any street map;
I can’t find it off North Street
or in the South Lanes.
Nor is it a dead end.
It’s more like a two-way
where past and future
keep passing each other.
I compare facades
of buildings, material things, changing.
I look, and look again.
I’d like it to be meaningful, this trip.
At night we watch the ocean move in
and out with the tide of the full moon,
recite Dover Beach at the pebbles.
I’m not ‘flooded by memory.’
It’s more like the waves – a coming and going.
My memory does not spool
like a super 8 film in 3 minute instalments,
the colour of nostalgia
and the thrill of walking backwards;
it does not rewind like a home movie video
with horizontal lines and stray pixels;
my memory lane is paved with digital cobbles:
out of sequence, random bumps;
superficial; sometimes hitting a mark;
an etching, a groove, but I see no monuments.
I stumble upon nothing too poignant
but a feeling, perhaps, of having lived.
Here. There. I’m drifting,
swept by the wind near West Pier
ravaged and scorched by fire,
into little recollections – to Brunswick Square
where the paint no longer peels against
the salt sea air, and still,
nothing significant, no big unfurling.
I remember the cracks in the staircase,
draft excluders on the windows,
wearing hat and scarf
one bitterly cold winter night,
the electric fire barely warming;
I remember the eccentric landlord,
the pigeon which hopped into my room;
the people, I loved.
Is this what remains – post modern pebbles
full of deferred meaning, making a beach
– or is this the hyperreal, à la Baudrillard,
as I learned at Sussex?
Is the memory lane a railway track?
Mind the gap always, but get on the train!
Falmer, Moulsecombe, 7 Dials, 5 Ways.
Familiar landscapes, stations, crossways.
Victorian railings weather the storms
as does the saxophonist,
still under the railway bridge.
His music instantly breaks
my memories of filmmaking.
In the movie he’s walking himself
through Brighton, talking about
his passion for 19th Century colonial history.
The montage of our existence
played out in the ripples between us
playing ducks and drakes
and skimming along.
© S.Henrici 14.5.2012