November 14th, 2020
Left to His Own Devices1. Morn— believe me — When I — — son, we are — When our souls— Our bodies remain, — fade, they —•The weekend passed and Monday too. Tuesday morning wasn’t so bad, By Wednesday he was ready to… Thursday… By Friday he was ready to face the… The weekend passed and Monday too. Tuesday passed, Wednesday… By Thursday he was ready… By Friday he was ready… The weekend passes and Monday too. On Tuesday he wakes with a pain in his head, He rolls out of bed and dons his morning bonnet. Together with his walking stick he strolls through the park, His feet planted, toes wriggling still, on the carpet. By the river he changes into his swimming costume and dives into the cool blue water - splish! Under the bridge he meets the troll that grunts and waves a weary hammer, old age and gory past deeds weighing heavily on his once-handsome hunch. He greets them with a bow, and drifts on past ogres and hobgoblins, tipping his hat to the ferry-gnome and paying a ha’penny for passage to the afternoon.•Slip off your slumbering membrane and drape it over the chair in the corner, Let it rest, and breath, and later begin again anew. From the wardrobe comes a marching band in daytime uniforms, Robes and gowns, the readymade regalia of a regimental mind. Pick and choose, run your hand across their empty chests, lift up their hollow shirts, and spin them on glassy toes.2. The Mild WayTime to make a selection. ‘You today, thank you.’ Always thank the ceremony as it files away, closing the wardrobe door with a bow. ‘Thank you, all.’ They work hard, don’t they. ‘They work ever so hard.’ They do, they work ever so hard. Pick up Yourself and dress those clothes on. He’s still under the bridge, lying on his back, wearing a face that he stole from a jar by the door, where a mouse in an empty sweet shop ate its fill and, full, crudely spray-painted Mickey on the front desk. The surprise of the shopkeeper, as they keyed through the door, smelling of chicken grease and margarine. At some point he opens his eyes, and, when you open yours don’t be surprised. The overwhelming smell is just a distraction, you’ll recover when you can see again, it’ll all make sense after a while. The soft touch in your hand is just a memory, you’ll breath easily when the sun rises. The birdsong is real, but further than you think, perhaps we should go for a walk some day. A bugle sounds from the top of the coconut tree, causing several fruits to fall and crack open on the sharp rocks below. He picks one up and uses the mulch for breakfast, though it’s closer now to lunch.•A knock at the… head? Hello? ‘Come in.’ He’s weary, but it might just be… An alley cat, a side of ham, a water mill, a search engine. What’s this new parade? Who invited them along? A wellington boot, an empty crisp packet, a set of silver spoons. They’ve got the wrong day, whispers the dog in a headset, snapping shut a clipboard file with a glare. A dishcloth covered in tomato sauce, a table tennis paddle, a leaf. They’ve gone the wrong way, groans the orangutang hanging in the rafters, sharpening his nails on a rusty hook. A church roof, a peace accord, a turkey leg and all the drippings. They’ve bonged le song ray, gurgles the fish at the front door, hungover and lilting. A stagnant pool, a hard-wood floor, a wedding vow. With painful slowness the procession proceeds, and for a long time he watches as they file in and file out, then file in again wearing different costumes, then file out again wearing different hats.3. Rafter’s MoonAfternoon, ‘Afternoon.’ Don’t be rude, thank them for their kindness. ‘Thank you.’ Have you been in here all day? (You have) He’s been here too. (Understandable) When… will you… leave… do you think? (Good question)•Yesterday was all blue, and not in a good way. It was no sunny skies, though the weather was fine. It was no warm seas, though from the tap it was fine. It was under the bridge with the rest of the gang, and nobody smiled, and nobody laughed, until they all filed out. Then, when a bird swooped through and snapped at the tension with a beak of steel, the room was filled with smiles and sighs. Yesterday was all black, but that was weeks ago now. Still, it lingered, in the air, on the arm, in the walls. Still it lingered in his hands and on the kitchen table. Still it lingered, as it had done all week, in a quiet, strange, open place right there in front of him. Days had slid by, melding and mushing, one long day and one long night that ran alongside each other and together, ribbons rippling on. Something was approaching, relief he thought. Another suit to wear, another costume to disguise himself from the ache and heartbreak. It was on its way through the reeds, between the narrow avenues where he looked at the face of the world and found it broad, fat, smiling, glumly smiling, dully smiling, ceaselessly caring for him, the one left to stroll the strange parts and plumb the explorable depths. Still, so far, so far.•Yes, yes I’ll get round round that, you think, in a minute, in an hour, five days from now or the next Tuesday the 6th (which was yesterday, so not tomorrow at least). He looks up from the floor and the streetlight is blinding. He winces, rubbing his eyes, the ache in his back sending warning signs up through his aching spin into an aching neck that leans over one shoulder, bearing the weight of more than the large fruit that nods in a secret wind. The taste of the day is on his tongue. The grit of the week in under his nails. The chill of the night takes hold of his bare feet. The brightness of the streetlight blinds his eyes. Where have you been all day?4. Believe Ing.A knock at the… door? Hello? Come in. He’s weary, but it might just be… A small voice says, Hello? It says, Hello? And its owner appears too, with a thumb and a yellow boot. He stood from the bed, and looked down at his toes, where they had wiggled the day away, where they had wiggled away Monday and the weekend too, where they had wiggled away Friday, Thursday, Wednesday evening, Wednesday Morning, Tuesday, Monday, and the weekend too. The small voice says, Hello? And He goes over, to the boy at the door, with the thumb and yellow boot. He asks where the other boot has gone, if he’s hungry, what time it is, if he’d like to get McDonalds tonight.•He went to kneel and His bones pulled tight, He winced as He hit the ground, and leant heavily, The deep breathes, the false start. He went to kneel and His eyes burned bright, He smiled as He held the ground, and leant heavily, The knee, the broken heart.•Oh, believe me, child When I whisper, with a smile: My son, we are but dust. When our souls fly up, Our bodies remain, They fade, they crumble, and rust.
©2007-2022 Benedict Esdale