The art of poetry considered less important than a pneumatic bust and a pint of real ale.
Waiting for opening at the ‘Bird in Hand’
I relaxed on a towpath settle
Minding my own business
Watching swans at swim
And the decline of the sun.
There were spare benches aplenty
Yet a stranger in a shiny pinstripe suit.
A rose in his buttonhole. Fedora-hatted.
Chose to sit right next to me.
I endeavoured to ignore him,
Flicking through a magazine
Abandoned on the seat.
The bile bean adverts in Woman’s Realm
Were particularly gripping that week.
“Topaz McGonagall – blame my parents for the name.”
I overcame my distaste and shook the fish-limp hand,
“Nice to meet you…”
He windmilled an arm,
Pointing into the sky’s infinity
As if piercing the black cloud
That obscured the sun – temporarily.
“I prefer this time when the sun is melancholy
And the day dips into darkness.
And the flower heads droop…
Assuming his question rhetorical,
I read my horoscope instead, Virgo,
“Keep looking up. Romance is on the cards.”
My life was ‘looking up’,
The Bird in Hand’s new barmaid, Doreen,
Tall, blonde, emphatically pneumatic,
Was engaged to a local car mechanic
But had taken an obvious shine to me.
And the ‘Bird’ had a guest real ale,
Jimmy Riddle up from Dorset.
‘Nicely settling’, by all accounts,
I could not wait to fill my hands
With Doreen’s bust, and a pint of it.
Topaz continued his soliloquy,
“…I love to gaze into the sky
Or deep into country hedges
I like to trace the clematis’
Climb towards the light…
And sunflowers… “
The clock hand jerked and came to rest.
“… Sometimes I imagine that
If I could punch a hole through a hedge
Or pierce a rent in the sky
I might see through to eternity…”
The melancholy stranger stared into the water,
“Life and death are not in our hands.
We are always waiting… Condemned.
Unless we grasp our fate ourselves
Condemned to endless waiting days…
Until finding indeed that death does have dominion.”
At six precisely St Saviour chimed,
I tapped my watch theatrically,
“It’s been nice talking…
Must dash… Train to catch…”
An apologetic ‘splash’.
As I crossed the canal lock gate,
Not wanting a breach of etiquette,
I turned and made to tip my hat.
Vague traces of Topaz remained;
An umbrella on the ground,
A rose floating on the green ink canal,
Perused by curious swans.
And a fedora tipping over the weir.