Heroes made. More than hope – belief.
By Steve Wade
The pilgrims march with nervous purpose through inspissated streets. The man, the woman, the child, the youth. Cars creep close and edge – blades busy on windscreens. Light-bejewelled raindrops – silver, red, amber. Rivulets of mercury cascade. Steam. Complaining alternators squeal. Queuers in quandaries. Chip-glistened fingers. Sailboat gutters. Thirsty drains gargle gallons. An anxious hand checks the treasure’s pocket. Loud beery shouts of rough men’s voices. The girl, cool in her new shirt, feels observed. Touched by eyes. Wary, beware the threat. The cathedral looms up, up, up ahead, with its towers and dome of glistered gold. Urgent faces lit by tobacco embers. Work-tired feet tread pavement mirrors. So many Angels, Mellbergs and Barrys. Wet shirts on booze-warmed backs. The memory-exchange ahead. Worries fretted. But more than hope – belief.
The shuffling line of class-ridden shoes. The turnstile’s clunk and clique. The cauldron’s roar. So many, so close. The taste of strangers’ breath. Shoulder to shoulder at the pungent stainless-steel. The news-glossed book. The familiar face. Stoic’s laughter. Empathic smiles traded. Glows the sacred green in a tartan grid. The vaulted arches rise up, too high, too dark, to see. The scintillating heavens. Expectation. Faces turned up. The chosen envied few. The throat-sore roar. Then the little man – the saviour. Through swot-squinting glasses. Yorrick – a crowd borne upon his back. This time. This man. St Martin in the Villa field. More than hope – belief.
The neophyte hoops. And there’s the guilty one in ‘hisss’ seat. Pockets full, heart empty. The child commanded, looks away. But soon, no more. Relief in sighs and groans. Hollow leather’s thud. The chorus rises. The many as one. The wait no more. The moment’s still. The animal echoed roar. More than hope – belief. The mistake. The cutting hurtful silence. The defiant fist. The out-thrust chin. The run. The fall. The red. The kick. Angel’s cool. The baton whirls in the maestro’s hand. The band plays. A tune not perfect. The whistle shrill. Relief and hope – belief. False dawns, flagged away. Hearts beat, eyes glisten. Prayers answered. Noble curled parabola. Stooping hero. Unlocked – the gates of heaven. Ecstatic roaring joy unleashed. Ecstatic soaring hope released. More than hope – belief.
The homeward tramp. Grid-lock jammed. The hormone high. Shouter’s fatigue. The winner’s solace. No matter, sleep-time ticks away. Thoughts replayed. Heroes made. More than hope – belief.