You okay, mate? You look forlorn.
Like the knight in ‘La Belle Dame’? I say.
‘Alone and palely loitering.’
‘On the cold hill side’. Keats, I say. “La belle Dame Sans Merci’
John Keats. Romantic poet. You must have done him at school.
This is a butcher’s shop, mate. Not an English classroom. What can I get you?
“Sorry, you have to move.”
“You don’t belong here. You’ll have to move.”
“But I was here first. You saw me walking up and down with my multitudinous strands of hair incarnadine.”
“You can’t have ‘multitudinous strands of hair incarnadine’ in a poem about waiting for a poem to pull up like a bus.”
“It’s too heavy, too overwritten. Too Shakespearean. It changes the tone of the poem totally. It’s like two colors that clash.”
“I’m sorry. You’ll have to move. I can’t fit you in.”
“Okay”, she says, shaking her multitudinous strands in a flurry of petulance, “I’ll write a poem of my own and guess what?”
“You won’t be in it.”
And with that she gets out her notebook from her backpack and begins writing, furiously as Lady Macbeth cleansing her blood-soaked hands in the basin.
The poems whiz past like buses ‘Not in Service’.
There is no time table.
No bus shelter.
Only a sign saying, ‘Bus Stop 29’..
Anywhere is good as anywhere else.
That’s what Raymond Carver meant when he said:
Be At Your Station.
Be alert, open.
The deus ex machina will come.
Still, I’ve been waiting here for the last twenty minutes
With the girl with incarnadine hair.
It will be good if the poem or bus pulls up anytime soon.
I can paint by numbers.
I can paint a picture for you in one thousand words.
I can even play ‘Paint it Black’ on air guitar for you
But every time I paint myself in a corner
I need you to pull me out.
I worry about you like you worried about Chloe;
Would she be happy in Heaven?
Would someone throw the ball for her?
Take her for walks along the blue pastures
Of the sky?
But I can’t rescue you from adulthood.
All I can do is like I used to do when you played
in the Nationals,
Cheer from the sidelines
Wish you fangs and claws to fight off the trolls,
The sting of the scorpion
A heart as fierce as Balerion, the dragon
From Game of Thrones,
But peaceful and playful as Puff, that magic dragon
It all began a few years ago while waiting in a long queue at the ANZ Bank.
A well-dressed employee would come up to us randomly and thank us for our patience.
I’d say, at the flick of a switch, “I’m a patient man. Just ask my three ex-wives”.
I don’t know where that came from but he chuckled and I chuckled. It was a good line.
Then one day there was a bit of a queue at the library — a glitch in the system or something — and I thought as a spot of entertainment I’d add to the line. I had it all worked out.
I ended up with a relatively new staff member, a sour-faced woman who I’d only met once before, but I wasn’t going to be put off. It was my time.
“Thanks for your patience,” she said blankly’
“That’s okay,” I said. I think she knew what was coming. “I’m a patient man. Just ask my three ex-wives” then I added the new bit, “But you don’t want to listen to them, They’re biased.”
Then she looked me in the face. “Don’t you think, “ she said, “if all three said it independently, there may be some truth in it? You should go away and have a ponder”.
She saw to my request and I went off to have a ponder, unsure who was having who on.”
It is time to bring out the woman in the glove box again.
There are no gloves in there.
But there is Olive,
Quirky , off-kilter as this blog which is perhaps why I like her.
I like her feistiness too,
How she tells her husband,
“Stop shouting! Do you think that makes you a man?”
“All men need to be told this,” my partner tells me
Who likes Olive too.
She is getting the new book, the sequel, when it comes out.
But she is not like Olive.
Olive has a big personality and is not backward in coming forward,
As my mother used to say.
She is curious but curiously vulnerable.
She is the engine of the novel, the fuel, the vehicle
That takes you there.
She waits in the glove box like a car in a garage.
* have you a favourite fictional character?
* what do you admire in them?