My warders have me in thrall.
It’s a case of Stockholm Syndrome.
I’m at their beck and call.
I’ve tried to rise against them.
But they are big. I am small,
So I rub against them like a cat
Curl myself into a ball.
I understand you, I say. I really do
But it does no good at all.
My addictions, anxieties, fears —
My warders —- have me in thrall.
On a road trip the other day
we got talking about birth marks
and how you never see them any more
then at the airport
I saw this barista
with a mulberry stain on his face.
I had to ask him,
is that a real birth mark? I asked
we were talking about them
and how you never see them anymore.
Yes, he smiled
as if it were just another feature
on his face
like a mole or scar.
It looked almost beautiful.
Then he made me the greatest cup of coffee.
Thank you, I said
glad that I had asked him
and didn’t wuss out.
It’s okay to be curious.
is anyone else fascinated by birth marks ?
what would you have done?
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.
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?
Whenever my mother got in a state, she’d declare, “I feel like the wreck of the Hesperus, the Titanic and the Lusitania all rolled into one,” careful to keep things chronological. The old people they sure knew how to lay things on thick. But least they taught us the art of melodrama and not a little history.
* do you recall any sayings your parents or grandparents had?