David Lewis Paget
Footsteps! - Poem by David Lewis Paget
I set out on a filthy evening
Jogged the stream and under the bridge,
Headed into the pouring rain
And over St. Alban’s Ridge,
I heard some footsteps running behind
But never could turn to see,
For who would venture out in the rain
Just to be following me?
I’d heard the following steps before,
Had stopped, and I’d turned around,
Scanned the bushes and hedgerows
There was no-one there to be found,
I thought I could hear some breathing
From a bush, or hid in a tree,
Though nothing stirred but a restless bird,
Nothing that I could see.
I’d always travelled the leaf strewn path
By the early sun of the day,
But sometimes ran when the darkness fell
By the light of a moonlight ray,
I loved the scent of the pine fresh air
It made me alive, and free,
It wasn’t until I courted Claire
That the footsteps followed me.
They’d stop whenever I stopped, and then
Would start again when I jogged,
I thought at first it was just a trick,
An echo, bounced off a log,
But sometimes, there in the silence when
I stopped while catching my breath,
I’d feel the hairs beginning to stir
Way up on the back of my neck.
I turned to run by a farmer’s field
That was stacked with new mown hay,
Reflecting light from the pale moonlight,
Awaiting the farmer’s dray,
I heard the footsteps behind me squelch
In the mud from the driving rain,
I called, ‘You’d better come out tonight,
By God, or I’ll cause you pain! ’
I pulled a glittering knife blade out
I’d hidden, deep in its sheath,
Scanned the track by the farmer’s field
And the heather, down on the heath,
But nothing stirred in the pale moonlight
Though I saw its tracks in the mud,
And as I watched in a gathering fright,
They seemed to be filling with blood.
I turned and ran in a panic then
And weaved my way through the trees,
My heart was beating, my mind was numb
I slipped, and fell to my knees,
I finally found the giant oak
Where I knew that a corpse would lie,
The moon was sending a single beam
And lighting the dead man’s eye.
I’d propped him there when I’d slashed his throat
To free up the hand of Claire,
She’d been bereft when he disappeared,
Would never have found him there.
I’d meant to come back, bury the bones
But still he sat by the tree,
And now the footsteps joined with him there,
His eye was glaring at me.
They followed a trail of blood, they said,
The searchers said, when they came,
And I was cowering by the corpse,
They said that I was to blame.
They’ve put me here in a darkened cell
Where I sit and stare at the floor,
And hear the shuffle of footsteps there
On the other side of the door.
4 March 2014
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