Someone else was driving

by Simon Collings

I’ve just had four new poems published by Stride magazine, three of them prose poems. Here’s one of them:

The paths

I look up and catch a glimpse of the path along which I’ve come, or I picture myself doing so, the traces already laid long since, awaiting my arrival, or if not my arrival that of someone like me who might act as the agent for whatever was meant to happen, a role fulfilled on this occasion by me, as events turned out. Let’s say it was a result of circumstance, the product of a particular conjunction of factors, both internal and external, if such a distinction can be made, a moment in the turbulent buffeting of experience when the confluence of forces points in one direction and the flow carries us like a swimmer lacking the strength to breast the current. But this implies a struggle and there was none. How or when that moment arrived is difficult to say, whether I willed it, however unintentionally, or was taken unawares, caught off balance as it were and provoked into action where in other circumstances I might have proceeded differently. That moment can never now be reconstructed with any certitude, the impression already a blur, the sequence of events becoming confused, so that in the telling of it I find I have invented a version which now obscures other possibilities, omitting important details, a rationalisation after the fact hiding an obvious motive I can’t or won’t acknowledge, and of which I remain completely unaware. Yet I remember moving, and considering for a fleeting moment whether this was the right thing to be doing, a passing instant in which I might have opted for a different course but did not for reasons I can no longer articulate, and perhaps never actually debated with myself, those other options simply appearing like paths into a wood glimpsed from the window of a moving car which someone else was driving.

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