Alex Aldred lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he is currently studying towards his PhD in creative writing. His debut chapbook, Faces Adjacent, was published by Ghost City Press. You can find out more about his work by finding him on twitter @itsmealexaldred, or by summoning him to speak with you in person, provided you have access to the necessary runes. www.alexaldred.co.uk
Did I grow up in a kind of Pompeii,
where everything had already happened?
I remember the rough-edged cul-de-sac
where my first friends and I would fight,
shelling conkers and falling off bikes,
and it never felt as though anything
had fossilised. We’d glimpse butterflies
sailing the breeze, no two alike,
all very much alive. They’d hold me rapt
until the sun trickled into the treeline.
No choking ashfalls or dwindling pyres. But –
there was this sense of something trapped
beneath the tarmac. A primordial tension,
like barometric pressure, a nameless force
caught without warning in tephra and soot,
curdled by time into barite, gypsum, quartz.