Voice

not the best about hearing medical things

I switch the channel if there is blood on the screen

& she is talking telling me on the phone

they took out this cut through that

& now I have bags needing to be emptied

got other surgery scheduled reattach this n that

as the silence grows

you still there?

oh yeah I croak

gimme a second

my voice has gone

I need to sip something

lubricate y’know

& I drink the water slow

trying to think of something I need should say

jeeze that’s um intense

how are you in yourself?

& thankfully she talks of hope new tomorrows

as I think of her dead sister

our conversations much like this

hoping for hope sake

there will be new tomorrows

the old man

I saw him a few times in his last years

the two he spent living in hospitals

when his second wife my stepmother

would not let him return home

I lived on the opposite coast then

had done since I left home at fifteen

but I’d arrange my work to go see him

I found him one time fully dressed

sat in the chair beside his hospital bed

they tell me I’m depressed

he said in his usual quiet way

been like it for years they tell me

they’ve put me on these pills to help

but I don’t feel different in any way

which was quite some speech for him

& what to say?

his wife would not let him come home

she had reasons could not lift him if he fell

could not do care was not made that way

& with her bingo trips lunches with the ladies

made her visits to see him short & brief

I guess you got reasons I murmured

thinking on that & my mother his first wife

run off left him broke with two kids to feed

& what would they be? he asked all quiet

as we both dropped into silence for a while

I knew she would pull through

She got quit

called me up

spoke with a voice full of sad

she quit me

said it was because I’m sick

did not want

to be my later life carer

like y’know?

I’m never going to get better

It’s a sad day

lost my long time lover

to her diagnosis

she ain’t qualified to give ever

she took a sigh

I’d been listening in silence

you still there?

yeah just about sorry about that

I might apply she went on

y’know for a grant or something

for what?

well y’know as a black lesbian

disabled long term sick

who has lost her lover

there must be a grant somewhere

so’s I can write

find a reason to live don’t you think?

It was about then

I knew she would pull through

back

there were clues strewn

I did not pick up

thinking everything we had

was burnt so long ago

that when you said

pick up pick up

only then could I see the trail

leading to your conclusion

& all I could offer back

was silence

confusion

we were done then

were more done now

& were only talking

for polite conversation

& that I was only holding onto

for others present

their needing no past

no history no drama

for their consideration

like any government

there were years of silence

but like any government

when there is something

it wants you to know

there will be a way to get through

& I’d grown easy with that silence

comforting to have the ease

but i bought the ticket

took that long ride to go find

if there was anything new

of course there wasn’t

but the need for an audience

listen to the old show

no attempt to be true

behave in any way new

& both of the originals are gone

just the step in hanging on

I’m getting used to the quiet again

not waiting for the call

but knowing sure as tomorrow

one will come

new friends

put my palm out

said to the man

I could take a hand

I’m struggling here

& silence came back

for a while

then the words

I don’t understand

such a simple request

ask

for fear of failure

in the middle of life plans

nothing working out

so you learn

pull your hand back

shrug of the shoulders

ok man

I get it

this is how it stands

thanks for the heads up

I need to find

new friends

another way

I’d drive them out of the city

sensation seeking students

& sometimes aspiring ne’er do wells

who the city wanted put straight

driving out to nature

where I’d walk them down a trail

to a full green valley bowl

scatter them off to disperse

find a spot by themselves

just sit for a while

four hours maybe five

until they heard the come here whistle

& some would come back too soon

unable to be alone

to be set back off again go complete

& at the end of the exercise

some would complain

of the tedium boredom isolation

the long dragging day

others would say felt like minutes

& the long drive home

was full of silence as the experience

of no phones no tv no people

just sitting by themselves

settled into their bones

now they knew

there was another way

roaring deep

those nights

lights off

sitting in silence

holding my head

& wondering if the abyss

would cease staring back

as the world spun ever tighter

it seemed then

that everything I had ever

got close up to

seemed built

on a long ladder of lies

dissolving under close gaze

tighter inspection

parents school college

all of the institutions

work

that ever present

need to earn money

where the people

who did the actual work

earned less than those

who could not do the job

sitting in air con offices

scheming on each other

to suck up to the boss

in a bigger office

I wanted needed out of the trap

& all I heard in the silence

was the abyss roaring deep

since forever

I was the angry young man

who nobody understood

could lend a helping hand

& then I got to a place

where I realised

knew

the vow of silence

my captors had made mine

was the block in my way

I began to talk

to tell of the pain the blood

it was then they called me crazy

thinking they held all the cards

but what I knew

it was my place to explain

explore their hold on me

until

the chains were smashed apart

broken

kir s’il vous plait

dirty sign side of the road

washed dark with tyre spray

single bulb lighting FRITES

& I was hungry enough to stop

parked up went in through a dark door

to a just opened easy food smell

a little brunette smiled b’jour

offered me a table close to her

& I realised I’d not spoken

for close on to two days

hearing my voice rasp slow

kir s’il vous plait

which surprised her some

she brought that & a plastic menu

drifted back to her kitchen

while I pondered over steak or burger

could this be love?

I ordered the steak & of course frites

which she brought with a smile

a cold beer from the presion tap

suggested bon’appetit & was gone

while I wished we could talk more

after eating I ordered a café crem grande

& still nobody else had appeared

I thanked her paid fifteen euros

left a tip sighed a’voir thinking adios

creaked through the door into the rain

out into my world of driving & silence

once more