We have met from time to time,
passing casually, he tipping his hat
and smiling enigmatically, I nodding,
casually acknowledging. We never speak;
such is not the familiarity we, nor I
at least, seek, would not be seemly.
He knows me, though, knows when
and where I go, how close our routes
I passed a moment on a mountain’s edge
with him, ignored him while he waited
by my father’s bed.
Predictably, I drop by when the snow
piles on the driveway. I stand near enough
to listen to the cadence of his heart, the
blood-whisper through the valves. He knows
me well enough by now, a nodding acquaintance
once, the kind, you know, where I would wink
and smile at funerals, nudge him lightly
on the ice crust of a cliff’s edge. We are
bus-stop companions, those familiar faces, whose
presence, scarce acknowledged, would be missed.
Not a day goes by but our paths cross. I, on my
business, he looking away. Lately, though,
we are much closer; I wouldn’t go so far as
“friends”, but I follow him inside, sit near
and listen to his breathing, the way his pulse
jerks and sometimes dances off-rhythm. In
the systolic hiss, I murmur his father’s name.
Hugh Anderson lives on Vancouver Island which seems a pretty solid place in a world no longer certain of reality. Recent publications include Vallum, Cold Mountain Review, Sin Fronteras, The Poems in your Pocket collection, and Sea and Cedar. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.