A Scribe of Essex

by Diane Fahey

Diane Fahey

He was not straight out of Dickens,
he'd travelled a more circuitous route,
with his goggles, black mac and motorbike,
weaving half-drunk over freeways
he viewed as some kind of aberration:
a man of the past, of lost customs
and courtesies; grey haystack of hair,
ripe bulbous nose, and teeth black
with tobacco, ground down by
a lifetime of considering things.
His clothes exuded like a halo
the strong weed cradled inside his pipe.
Tobacco! — he cleared his throat —
the charm that had kept him in bloom,
kept death from his door:
‘Kills all bacteria,’ he pronounced
with a puff, and left it at that.
‘Now this will bore you,’ he'd warn
before each rambling, pithy anecdote —
a man of few words, but many.
He could hold forth on any subject.
For instance, Housework.  Not needed,
he claimed — rain cleaned the windows,
and, as for the rest … his gaze
wandered on to another topic.
So he clung, with stout conviction,
to a widower's bachelor ways.
He'd been
a commercial artist until retirement;
on his lapel, lettered in delicate
sloped gold: ESSEX SCRIBES.
On parting, he gave me this blessing:
‘Now don't let anyone put you down —
you dingoes, you're all God's creatures,
just the same as us poms!' Then
he disappeared from the doorway
with the rigid bearing of one who knows
that loneliness is a discipline
to be learnt anew each day; and that,
when you leave good companions,
you do not look back.

Turning the hourglass

Last updated January 14, 2019