It looks like a lorry’s parked outside, just by a flower pot. I am arguing with online friends about class differences, ideologies, lack of revolutionary zeal, young-black versus white-old. Reversing over the pot, the lorry crashes into my neighbour’s house. I pause the argument to look for a quote from On Disobedience in the pile of books due to go to charity shops. Police and fire brigade should be on their way. There might be questions needing answers about circumstance, and whether anybody tried changing the course of events. My neighbour and I, maybe the driver, would have. The writer of this account would have too, by swiftly changing the lorry’s position from here, to somewhere at the far back of the landscape. Yet some would argue that for centuries barbarism solved all our problems by force and violence, proving to be such a success.
I am getting used to passing the time
in the solemn company of my wood beams.
Perhaps weeks, perhaps years
in which I have been witness to the world’s determination to name the unborn,
to possession and
to preparations coming from planning uncertainty,
and to my own weakness.
I have not become better
although I lit candles and prayed
and I mattered.
I scribbled more question marks on waiting room tables than I gave answers
I felt the humility of a man proven wrong when
I hoped I had done enough.
Somehow, each time I rebelled
I ended up cleaning up the wreckage,
but not myself.
At night I can only look at you
through a keyhole.
Sitting on one knee, on the floor,
I go on writing my thoughts
on pieces of cloth.
Locked in a motionless day
I keep busy
cutting my memory in perfect squares
to check how small
you became over the years.
I measure and trim
the infinite distance
between the rooms in my heart
with blunt scissors
we had more time or at least
we had more courage
But all we did in those days was sleep.
We were very good at keeping quiet
until the moment
silence, at last, settled in.
There is no other sign of life here,
only my fingers caught between
the wooden pages of a newspaper.
When everyone else builds
the flat packed cement houses outside,
me and the nurse behind the glass
scrutinise each other, munching dry biscuits
saying sorry for the spoilt tea nobody drinks.
Of this I am not yet so sure.
I suppose she checks the pulse,
the nurse with a concrete face
keeps filling in the charts
with the same precision she fills in
the crossword spread open
over my legs.
I do not mind.
I say to her ‘could you please remove the batteries
from the white clock’ the time
does not matter now
what matters, I think she says, is hanging on in there.
Her own watch upside down
hanging on, just about, with her name badge.
I offer her my bed.
I could after all sit in the waiting room
by the door
or make her coffee, I suggest.
But Susan points her finger at that hole,
uncovered wound on my chest.
‘For now, let’s just talk.’
The bare wall is
the last thing I remember and
Susan watching the news.