Category Archives: Amy Stimson

Departures

by Amy Stimson

I remember when one I used to think of stations as Departures. The world, I thought, lay ahead in all its scintillating possibility, blazing a path like sunrise over the ocean. It’s all looking ahead, looking out, ever, ever on. They were a launch pad, the exhilaration of the bungee platform. The sheer number of trains made me giddy. What a world, I would think. To hop on in one place and hop off somewhere else completely new! Who knew where it would take you, who knew what you would find?

I think of stations now as departures. They are never still, never… stationary. How odd, how sickening is that paradox! There it exists, squatting on the line, the toad of the centuries, vomiting tinny tubes of mankind. Never stopping, and no one ever staying, no one ever lingering, only twitching. Like flies, about to dart away to the next place, their short existence leaving no room for standing still. Like sharks, they’ll die if they stop moving. Me, I can’t breathe like that.

I been thinking now, that ‘departures’ is an awfully long word. Its tracks unfold and unwind as long as a universe. It has no mobility, only distance, and it goes on and on. It’s too late for what I want now, now that time seems only made up of moments that are gone. Like the trains, they are fleeting visitors, all too soon snatched away, bulleted down the tracks beyond all reach, beyond recovery. For me, there is no traveling back on the same line. I’m stationary now, and I am fixed, watching the moments speed up and rattle away, carrying away another piece of me as if I could endure endlessly to be torn.

I can only think of stations as departures now. That last thread of connection is almost visible: I see it pull, streeeetch and snap at last. What a hunger that last moment created – those last words, the last touch! The physical separation now floats a continent between your hands and mine. Then, the feeling of the blood being drained, as if I’d left my own being on the platform, and was slowly (but now faster and faster) left behind, growing smaller.

Then all at once Home is swallowed.

There’ll be another train there in three minutes. And another one. But, for me, these trains only move in one direction. They’ll never take me back. If I must move, I move on.

I used to think of the stations as Departures, but now I am departed.

Nineteen Hundred and Fourteen

by Amy Stimson

Bereft. The word has that funny ‘ffft’ on the end and it’s so difficult to pull out of your mouth, like a chicken bone, or that awkward pip you don’t know where to spit. But you oughtn’t think about spitting here. The vicar is saying you should rather think of it as glorious sacrifice. Those are two big words – Glorious and Sacrifice. They’re Too Big to fit into your head, and certainly Too Big to cover a coffin.

Bereft. It is a soft word, natural as death. That is the whisper of the Union Flag shroud. It is also Too Big. It barely covers the length of the coffin but pours out over the sides. And still, it’s too small to make any difference to a cadaver that’s already been exploded to bits. But what does that matter when you’re dead?

“It’s so very sad,” people are saying.

Now there is a word that is too small.

Though as soon as they add, “but noble,” they are using another Too Big word. People like Big Words today. They use them all over like big flower arrangements to make the coffin look smaller. Great War, King and Country, Glorious, Remember. No one speaks the little ones.

“Do you know, my darling,” says a lady, “how very, very brave your papa was?” If you shake your head, they cry more. They hug you as if they’re the orphan. They tell you you’re “a brave girl.” That you must “make your papa proud.” You don’t say that you won’t make your papa anything, ‘cos he’s dead. They don’t understand small words.

But I do. I understand Dead. And I understand Orphan. And I’ve been all through Sad until it filled up my whole brain and made my thoughts huge and heavy in my head.

And I understand War. You think you do because its only a little word and everyone knows it and it only has three letters. But it doesn’t.

It has guns.