Along the banks of the barge canal in the village park, a man older, his hair white, almost a mane, sits on the breakwall feeding Wonder bread to the small flotilla of ducks. Tearing shreds of crust from a slice, he casts it onto the water and smiles as they bob for the crumbs. He tells them the story of his life as though they were his oldest friends. My Anna, he says, was a special woman, I met her one night in the cramped vestibule of an Indian take away in London during a blackout. We heard the sirens and then a blast, not far off. She grabbed my arm in fear. She was from Marlow-on-Thames, she lived in a small flat in the Bottom, she worked days in a millinery, and at night tended bar at the Local, until the war. She’s been gone two years now and I miss her terribly especially late at night. A goose slowly swims over awaiting her meal, she looks deeply into his eyes. How are you, dearest Anna, it is not the same without you late at night when the silence is broken again by the sirens.
First Published in Friends & Friendship Vol. 1, The Poet, 2021
We have police for almost everything these days, ports and airports, cities, towns transit authorities and those whose beat is good taste or lack of it. Most enforce laws, some merely regulations, a few making them up as they go. My phone rang this morning, an 800 number, And knowing better, I answered it. It was a bank, one where I have never had an account, telling me there was a problem with my ATM card and I needed to call immediately to reactivate the card. Unfortunately I didn’t write down the the call back number, and now some poor scammer is sitting by his phone with time on his hands, imagining the free meals he might have had doing federal time for wire fraud. If only there were the telephone police, but they have all gone to work for the NSA, recording my callback numbers.
It was sunrise, he was on the banks of the river, and he knew, in that moment that he would remember the scene, if not the name of the river, or where on its banks he was, that was of no consequence at all, only the beauty. When asked about it, he would say that it was an obscene beauty, although he knew people would question how anything obscene could be beautiful and anything truly beautiful could be obscene. He could not hope to explain this, but it was simply obscenely beautiful, if only for the few moments it took the sun to further erupt from the river. When he would describe it, and they would engage in a nervous twitter he would laugh, not a giggle, but the deep, oblivious laugh of the child.