13 February 2015


“He’s dead,” she said.

“Yes, he died of cancer;
I heard about it.
Did you know him?”

“I knew of him, mostly.”       

He was not her sort
Therefore she tried to recall
All she could
This was intrigue to her

Three at the kitchen table 
In the cupboard across
The cherished wedding china displayed
Green scrollwork on white background
This visitor next to me
Had an air of elegance
But which elegance?
Trait or pretence?

She continued:
“Once in a while
I’d run into him at a coffee shop.”
 “What did you think of him?”
She narrowed her eyelids,

“He was somewhat of a rascal.
I considered him a reprobate
He cursed a lot, tough guy slang.”
“I don’t remember 
Cursing or slang,” I said.

“How could you remember? 
 You were so young!”
This from our hostess
As she poured coffee into porcelain cups
Green scrollwork on white background

“He had a mistress,
She was young,  
He bought her a car
They say he paid her rent, also.”

Our hostess poured cream offered sugar
“Sounds as though he kept her,” she said.
An old friend
She guessed why my curiosity

“What did his wife think?”
I asked.
“Nothing to think. She put up with it.”

“What happened to the girls?”

I always worried about those
Two daughters of his
Worried for their safety
They took the entrance exams
The son of a bitch
Wanted them to attend
My school

Did he still carry a knife?
I didn’t ask

I was happy to hear
What the visitor said
Even with limited information
I felt avenged 
It showed, his nature
He was a

It’s been almost half a century
Have I lived that long?

When I think of
Those late afternoons
During childhood
His presence hovering 
My state of confusion 
Hands smothering panic

I start to believe
I’ve lived long enough

Hang it up, hang it up
Filthy shard of an old
China cup
Spectral memories
Coil in the background
Hang it up they hiss

The three of us had coffee
Hot, strong
Late June
Late afternoon
The cool Sunday breeze
Inviting after
Saturday’s wedding
And we guests tired
From the night before

I live in the margins of life 
Those nightmares
What did I survive them for?