Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry

Day 242

the man

the man is tired, sick
and tired of the world not
turning the way he wants it to,
his faith in the spirits ebbing,
exhausted by too many decisions
(he thinks of eliot on the shelf)
and choices, and no time to
wind back. time has gone and
remains gone, and those days
will never come back.

his hands are skeletal, his knuckles
white on the armrests, and he is tired
of the animals pestering him for his
attention when he has none to give,
but glad of the warmth they share
in the fading summer, claustrophobia
mixed with fear, and the desire to be
alone forever.

he stretches his aches away, and pushes
the furry bundles out of the chair, limps
across the threshold and out through
the gate as fast as his pain allows
to find the parched meadows and the
empty spaces between the trees,
a desire to lie down irresistible. he
closes his eyes until a wet nose wakes
him, and drives him back to the house.

his restless legs are too exhausted
to resist the affections of the animals again,
and he falls asleep on the chair surrounded
by his lack of hope and their premonitions.

This is the second poem in the series that started in my head yesterday morning, scribbled into my journal, photographed, and then edited on my phone whilst sitting outside my acupuncturist practice. 



Even as she walks up to the terminal building, the late afternoon sun strangely warm on her back, Aggie affects that gait she knows will make her invisible, and lets into the mask-wearing crowd, some of them wearing masks anyway. She remembers she’s not an albino to anyone but herself, because of her black hair and eyebrows, because of the changes she has made to herself, although she knows, she always knows, that Valentine has seen her in her new guise, even if it’s through someone else’s eyes, so it’s important for her to just be an insignificant little woman on her way to somewhere from somewhere else, someone in a hurry but unaffected by the hurry, someone used to travelling, used to being in transit. And she thinks that, in effect, she’s actually been in transit all her life, so much that she doesn’t know where she came from or where she’s going. She wonders what Marion will be like, if she’ll be like one of those super-efficient and sleek women on American TV with ridiculously perfect teeth, glossy hair, and smart dress that looks like it’s been poured on. She checks the Departures board, finds the number of the desk where she’s meant to check in, pulls her passport out of the backpack, and her ticket, repeats her name to herself a few times without moving her lips, moves slowly and unobtrusively to where she needs to be. The queue is huge, and she remembers she has a Business Class ticket, and a rapid check-in pass. That counter has no queue at all, but she saunters rather than rushes to it.

The woman at the desk smiles at her, and she smiles back, a lazy, easy smile that would never be interpreted as anything but friendly, the smile of a woman who knows how fortunate she is to have this privilege but would never see it as a right, who would never pull rank over anyone just helping her take advantage of the convenience that status brings. She registers the name on the woman’s badge. ‘Thanks for your help today, Tracey,’ she says.

Tracey smiles thankfully, her eyes saying thank God for someone polite. ‘Any luggage to check in?’

‘Hand baggage only,’ Aggie says, and holds up her backpack. ‘I like to travel light.’ She’s working hard to maintain the accentless English.

‘Just a flying visit then,’ Tracey says. ‘Pardon the pun.’

Aggie smiles and makes her eyes sparkle. ‘Yes, just a quick trip. Needs must and all that.’

‘You’re all done. Have a good flight.’

‘Thanks so much, Tracey,’ Aggie says, and bows her head a little. Just reinforce the unobtrusive politeness. Not nice enough to be remembered if anyone asks. ‘Have a good day.’

‘Thanks.’ Tracey’s mind is already on the glamorous couple with five suitcases who came running to stand behind Aggie a few moments ago. They’ll distract her forever with their impossible demands.

Aggie wanders off to security, passes effortlessly and faultlessly through the metal detectors, her backpack anonymously through the x-ray machines, and she finds herself strolling through the Duty Free shop no-one can avoid, stops at the perfume counter, toys with the idea of buying Lilibet some dark, musky scent, pushes away the idea as stupid. Maybe on the way back, if there is a way back. Makes her way to what can only be described as a holding pen for everyone. She doesn’t want to spend time in the Business Lounge – that becomes too obtrusive. An hour to go until the gate is announced. She scan around her. Book shops. Food shops. She finds herself in a book shop, away from the front entrance, pretend looking at books, and all the while looking out onto the concourse, waiting to see if her instinct will pick up anything suspicious. She flicks, seemingly intently, through some of the novels, skim-reading their first few pages. Nothing takes her fancy.

The gate is announced, and she makes her way, leisurely, again, no rush, up and down escalators, along long corridors, until she reaches the glass cage where they will have to wait for a few more minutes until they can walk the plank onto the plane. She hangs back with the crowd, and waits. She’s good at waiting.

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