Perhaps I’m missing out, I thought, but the more he banged on about his lathes, routers and table saws, whipping out his mobile snaps of bench tops, bread boards, dodgy cricket bats and the blocky blokes around him in the Men’s Shed, I thought not and when he finally asked me what I did and I said chirpily, I write poetry, conversation shut down like a roller door.
He was having an off day.
No reports came in.
The odds were heavily against it,
Astronomical, in fact,
But there you were,
Blue moons, black swans, a win
In a billion dollar lottery.
But it didn’t help his mood.
Perhaps he should stop wearing black.
Lighten up a little.
Wear something trendier.
T-shirt, chinos, loafers perhaps?
He had become something of a cliché.
What would his boss say?
Would he be let go? Demoted to Accounts?
He was not a pen pusher
But a man of action.
His shoulders slumped.
His scythe dropped.
He let out a sigh.
No one had died on his watch
Forgive me. I am not myself today.
I wasn’t myself yesterday either.
To tell you the truth, I’m really uncertain whether I will be myself tomorrow.
Or the next day. Or the next.
Where I’ve gone to, I just don’t know.
I have informed the police, the Missing Person’s Bureau.
They have put out an all points alert.
I take time off work.
I go looking for myself in bars, parks, in shopping malls.
I take photographs of myself to show them what I looked like.
Ugly bastard, someone quips.
Go easy, I say. He’s not a bad bloke once you get to know him.
The rest shake their heads sadly.
I go home, hang my hat on the rack and sit down morosely on the old lounge.
Ahh, there you are, I say, almost sitting on top of me.
I was here all along, he says. Where have YOU been?
While on the subject of elephants , I had a friend once we all called ‘2 ply’ because he was thick-skinned; he didn’t feel like the rest of us; things had to be intense to get through that extra layer but when they did, he felt and gave out generously. Some found him a little distant.
My mother had a saying, “I can forgive but not forget.” She was good at grudges. My uncle, who was the recipient on more than one occasion, said she carried a chip on her shoulder big as a butcher’s block.
My other uncle had elephantiasis. He was always adjusting himself in the groin area. It looked like he was playing with himself in public. He and auntie never had children. Some nights in adolescence I would lie awake and think about uncle and his swollen scrotum. I had a ghoulish fascination with enlarged body parts. Doesn’t everyone?
Yesterday was really something.
A race to the top after five grueling days.
It was like a marathon.
The bureau reported, almost gleefully,
we had done it! we had broken the previous record.
It almost made it worthwhile.
The hottest day in the State’s history!
Yet people kept their cool
Even when the grid crashed.
Emergency Services stayed on top of things.
No one died.
We phoned each other.
Are you okay? We asked.
Yes! I’m okay, I barked after the tenth inquiry.
I was losing my cool.
Other states get floods, fires.
We get heatwaves.
By morning the cool had come.
We waved the heat goodbye.
have you experienced similar conditions?
what’s the worst weather conditions you experienced?
The wine had been sitting in the glass
for three hot days
when I poured it
& saw the stain
on the side:
a rune-like mark
Of some sort,
Angel or demon,
The drinker’s version of ‘the writing
on the wall’?
A message from another world?
I look at it long
what does it look like to you?
I was worried about whether the passageway would take too long to dry as visitors were coming later so the cleaner suggested opening the back door to let the breeze in.
– Good idea, I said, as I went back into my study and left him to it.
It was then I could hear him struggling, groaning.
– What’s wrong? I said.
– Darn door won’t open.
I went to have a look. He was putting his whole weight into it — and he’s a big man — and still not getting a result.
– Here, I said, demonstrating. There’s a trick to it. You pull the handle up not push it down.
– Well, I never, he said. I didn’t know they still made doors like this. It should be in a door museum.
– It’s an IQ test, I smiled. I wouldn’t worry though. It took me two days to work it out and I live here.
We both chuckled. You’ve got to give people a way out.