Friday, August 12, 2011

I predict a riot

‘… violence is embedded in public spaces whether visible or not, because public spaces are responsive to violence even before the violence has occurred, through the physical design.’
Jen Berean & Pat Foster (PoCA magazine)
The child barely manages to post the empty crisp packet into the bin before his mother drags him onwards. He looks back hoping to catch a glimpse as it starts to crackle and smoke. He scrapes his shoe along the edge of the kerbstone, throwing out an anchor to slow their progress, but all he leaves is a slight red scuff that melts and slowly dribbles toward the gutter. A police car passes and he pictures it upside down, end over end, any way but this – much more fun than flipping triangles in maths class. His mother says he has an overactive imagination although she struggles to keep the syllables in their rightful place.
The mother drags him onwards, just another bag of shopping she can barely afford only without the handles. He bulges, he sags, he makes her arm ache, he threatens to spill his contents across the pavement at any moment. They stop by a shop, the mother staring at the screen of her mobile phone, decoding abbreviated declarations of love from the latest in a long line of abbreviated lovers. The child exhales. His breath a hazy cloud on the shop window. In this he draws – not letters or hearts or faces – but jagged lines that divide and collide to form little pieces of steamed glass. A map of how this window might come apart.