To clear a window to a soul is not easy but
here is a way
First find the right soft duster
breathe softly on the cloth from the heart
and tentatively, watchfully, carefully
begin to polish away corrosion
The cloth can catch
and leave threads of itself
but with love and hope and perhaps thousands of tears
the rust on the soul window will clear
February is cruel.
St. Valentine’s a fool but
I can’t forget you.
Friends who were friends of friends are no longer friends – for new friendship’s sake, old friendships end. And I do not understand where in the diagram I stand.
He had always seemed too good to be true, my old friend. But then we fell out, over a woman perhaps, or differing interpretations of friendship, or perhaps through growing older. So I had not seen him for ten, maybe fifteen years, when he walked right by me. I only understood it was him when we had passed; a flicker at the corner of his eye caught mine. Perhaps – again, I’m unsure – the tremor was a sign that he had seen me.
I walked on a few steps; I slowed; I stopped. Would I turn and see him close behind me, smiling or frowning or looking puzzled, or would he have disappeared amongst the crowds? Or would I turn at all? Perhaps it was not him I could convince myself. I turned. He stood there, older, softer, his eyes the same.
So we went for a coffee and a promise to catch up and I’m sorry, no I am, and him and then me and then him and then we both looked at the time again and I thought of having to run to catch up and the years we had spent without talking.
And there was an uncomfortable shuffle and a handshake became an embrace and our gripped hands were caught tight like a fist between our chests, knuckles grinding ribs, and he looked at me and I looked back and I saw that he knew and I tried to show that I did too and then we separated and turned away and everything that had to happen happened.
She used to say ‘Oh, stop it’ and smiley frown hit his chest with the side of her fist, sometimes thumping it once as if to open a stuck shut suitcase, sometimes drumming on his sternum to shock his heart back to life. He would laugh and the clouds would darken then clear from her face and she would turn and walk away, he hoped hiding a smile.
The one day she turned a corner and when he got there she was gone, not hiding behind the hedges or disappearing on a bus. Just gone.
Stand smiling like an idiot.
Think about calling.
Turn around in circles, both ways.
Go back to the corner and look up to the sky.
Perch on the low brick wall where the hedge ends and check your phone for messages.
Look around again.
Let time pass.
Look at the pavement, look around the corner, look at the sky.
Walk home and close the door quietly.
Years later, after the tears, the police, the almost forgetting then the sudden remembering like lightning cracking the sky, years later, he wrote his story and put it on his blog.
Days later, when the story had been and gone and there had been only one click, there was a single sharp knock at his door. In the silence it knocked at his heart like a small clenched fist. He went to the door and listened.
We sewed name tags in all my dad’s clothes. But eventually he forgot who he was.