Travelling home

My father sang of seafarers and saints. Cowboys and lovers, swindlers and gamblers. Men lost and found in lonely places.

I’d grown up believing he sang for me.

In the years that I’d rambled I’d become those old songs, more and more. They were always with me.

One evening I sat myself down on a cliff-edge. The sea to the horizon was broiling grey. I watched the whip of water on it, rising up, sucking down a cotton twist from messed up clouds. As it stumbled and tripped towards me I remembered Carlotta, the one I’d have stopped my wandering for. I saw her dark twist of hair skimming the waves. Heard the roar of her laugh. Watched the flash of her eyes. Recalled what she’d said—it had turned me and turned me and left me dizzy with disappointment. ‘You’re born to travel. Your home’s not with me. Your home’s the road. Yeah. You’re born to keep a-travellin’ on.’ And I heard my father singing the same words, and I wondered if Carlotta had been nothing but a song.

Born to keep a travellin’. The tower of water raced toward me now. It loomed over me. Picked me up. It span me into heaven and hell. Born to keep a-travellin’. Born to keep a-travellin’ on.


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