Lingering smells of vinegar and fish,
red and green smears on an empty plate,
a solitary bone in a serving dish.
The constable pours tea
in a room drenched in sunlight;
an incongruous joke becomes light relief.
At his age a simple case of lights out, it’s said,
something you have to believe.
Only an hour before he stood at the door
complaining of chest pains that
Alka Seltzer would not relieve.
The neighbour walks in wiping her eyes,
tells of a conversation by the fence.
She cups her drink, shakes her head,
unable to make much sense.
Light another round of cigarettes,
though wherever the eyes fall
there are many reasons for regret.
So stand, walk around,
peep through the net curtains where
the ambulance casts its shadow – no sound.
You’re numb with facts that won’t ingest;
a still hot soldering iron, pliers, cut wire,
like something from the Marie Celeste.
poem © copyright David F. Barker 2012
* first published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.com