The watch lay where he had left it, next to the bootleg Pogues album. Some live concert in Bristol, before it had all come apart. The face was dark, lifeless, until he ran a sentimental finger across the scuffed glass, leaving a smear of brightness that faded like fogged breath on a window.
Before the fall, the sight of a naked woman strolling through the wreckage as if on a summer beach might have startled him. He had seen many such sights since, although the shapes had often staggered and stumbled, as if half-blind. He had thought, the first time, that the fire might have returned, that the moon might once again be reflecting the sun. They had all left, in the end. His brother had died, trying to follow them. Now here she was, marching through the steel graveyard towards him, as if she knew him. She must have gotten lost, he thought, all those years ago. Only she did not walk like someone lost. When they finally stood face to face, he realized that he knew her, had known her all along.
Sorry I’m late, she said. He held up the broken watch. The way his cheeks felt, oddly stretched, he must have been smiling. I remember now, she said, how to bring it all back.
An old one for today. I still like the imagery in this one, even if it is a twenty-something’s perspective on age and time. Things definitely look a little different on this side of forty.
I’ve only seen him old;
He walks in the park with a black umbrella,
feeds stale popcorn to the squirrels;
He must be old as mountains,
his youth a hot river of lava,
rushing through new born seas,
throwing up geysers of steam to come down rain;
His feet hit the puddles in rubber galoshes,
he walks in the park with his son’s dead friends,
dreams the same dream every night:
He’s walking up a hill
double-shadowed in the streetlights
under a fingernail sliver of moon;
the silhouette of a church,
a jagged hole in the deep blue twilit sky –
the closer he gets,
the less the shadow changes;
he is waiting for the features to emerge
like the face of an old friend,
but it only grows darker
save for a glimmering faintness, like distant stars;
Each night he’s just a bit closer
to stepping through.
I’ve only seen him old;
He claims to have made his peace with the world;
He says that paranoia is a form of vanity
and that too much luck will only kill you in the end;
He walks by the river with his son’s dead friends,
leaves fall on his hat like dust on cobwebs;
He whistles a tune from some old black and white movie,
ghosts gather hawthorn in his wake;
His feet are light as dandelion pollen
and barely touch the ground.