We never knew his surname
he was just Con.
He’d retired here by the sea
built his own home.
We found him when he opened it to us
a sporting event in a town with not enough beds
civic pride asked residents to assist
he answered the plea – he was like that.
“There are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met”
so the cliché says
on fridge magnets
on posters – to eyes that know better
but in the surf echoing lounge of our meeting
it just was.
There was warmth.
a shyness that never went away
the shy of people finding magic
knowing to disturb or classify is to vaporize.
After the first time
we stayed with him every year.
doors bifold to the horizon.
Sunday, warm and blue
the blue of Monet or Van Gogh
sky and sea of arms flung exultance
a day beyond mutation
bliss, memory could never edit
perfection unalterable by circumstance.
Glasses raised in the beer sparkling sunshine
a coastal freighter freeze frames into harbour
bar patrons denounce and cheer satellite sport.
Amid updating the year past
and plan swapping of the one to be
we asked about his shoulder.
He said it had responded to massage and therapy
had talked to the surgeon
and decided to wait – “ give it a bit more time.”
He died three months later – bone cancer.