Young woman approaches up the Taff Trail. Let’s call her Perdita, because she’s lost in some way – out in the early morning dressed in last night’s glad-rags, out of place, out of time, in some distress. She doesn’t look as if she knows where she’s going. She’s limping, maybe carrying strappy party shoes.

Notes for Perdita

Where do you come from, limping
slightly, in the wrong
shoes, last night’s strappy whimsies
and whatever happened,
all wrong in the morning light, no, no

way back, where can you stop now
dirty stop-out, out
cold in the open, should have been home
six hours ago,

gimp-limping, sync-
opated rhythm set against the Taff’s
oblivious old flow?

She stumbles off the path — once, to the earth humps used by mountain bikers…

burial mounds

and what's the vanished hoard?

sheer momentum
risk velocity

you can't lay up such treasures on earth
or take them with you

imagine a life lived
so there's no time
to imagine
you can choose

… and once to the bamboo clumps beside the river.

The bamboo grove:
clumps leaving inner rooms
like wicket fences, the abandoned hamlet,
walls of wattle with its daub leached clean away.

The only window
is to water
Like a wicker submarine

These secret places
in a public space, that someone, or
more likely some two,

would have marked
in invisible ink made of sweat,
tears and sweet-
sourest bodily fluids,
on the map of their lives
as their own.

At the mounds, she seems to be looking for somewhere to lie down and rest, but it’s muddy; she slithers and falls, and struggles to her feet. MEANWHILE, at the Tesco workers’ smoking hut…
In betweentimes, the margin
of error, the narrowing gap
between neither and not,

in no-man’s-lane, this un-
intended, unattended strip
there’s the hut

where they come for a puff,

a quick one: see-through perspex,
smoke-dimmed from the inside
like a crystal ball;

a kennel for the smoke-beast
(light up is too grand a word),
diminished dragon

in its disconsolate smouldery huff;

last roost of an endangered
species — medically, they are;
then again

do we think we can corral it,
our endangered-ness, the way
we live, to this,

this decommissioned trolley-hutch,

as if only these few
were waiting, desultory, shame-
faced in the house

of correction, in a shelter
that’s no shelter down a cul de sac
for the last

This Bus Is Not In Service bus?
…the night-shift worker is having a weary fag break, reading the runes in the ashtray

From the entrails
of this morning's cigarette butts

The future
Stubbed out here

Say: haruspication
Say: the evidence
A smoking gun

Is this his?
Gothic energy drink

it says and
No half measures

impaled on a fence post
someone rammed it with his fist
(or hers)

traitor’s head on a pole

He could be a middle-aged biker – grey, balding 1960s hair, and beer paunch. He sees Perdita stumbling among the mounds. Is the look on his face concern, or more sinister? He can’t come through the fence, but heads for the far corner where he can.

Line of desire

into the moist and curling tendrils
growing as we speak

(inside, the most
unloved of places)

MEANWHILE she finds the bamboo grove and crouches in there for a while. She / we gradually notice other people’s rubbish round her. She gazes through the ‘window’ onto the water; we might fear that she’s fascinated by it. As if it gives her an idea, she comes out of the grove and heads upstream…
… to the underpass. Hesitates: she has a choice: the underpass’s underworld [NB my Orpheus excursion with Anne and the camera] or the concrete steps up to the bridge. Either way we fear for her — going into the dark, ill-clad and vulnerable, or the risk that she might throw herself in.
She seems to be choosing the underpass (just as we know Matt is approaching). At that moment, a small dazzle of light in the dark: a cyclist zooms out of the underpass, bat out of hell. S/he (maybe we can’t tell) has all the gear — beetle helmet, goggles, state of the art skin-tight lycra — and is moving fast, all top-notch kit and purpose.
Perdita jumps out of the way, and this seems to make up her mind: she climbs the steps and out onto the bridge. Above midstream, she stops and gazes over. We must wonder whether, in her obvious distress, she’s going to jump.
The cyclist skids to a halt, and looks back. Something about the apparition of Perdita has worried him, and he heads back. He and Matt are now approaching her at the same rate, each picking up speed — coming together where the steps come up on the bridge. As they meet (how would they respond to each other? discuss!) we see her make a decision: she takes out her mobile phone, dial, wait for an answer; then with an inscrutable small smile, she throws the mobile over. Splash.