The contrast wasn’t immediately sharp or vivid
observation was following directions
a motel. Two rights. First on entering the town
second after that. Back from the road. Look for the sign.
Attention relaxes to relief, everything is as should be
the correct destination. Webpage image not made over
comfort would have been annoyed but not disquieted
only one night will be spent in this halfway bed.
In the second weekend of the sun’s strongest month
while the flesh and spirit are strong and willing
a marathon in a coastal town
a long journey following river ribs over a mountain spine
Drive Friday. Run Saturday. Drive Sunday.
Pre-race energy levels reduced by frenetic travel
fatigue paid off with an extra day
circadian deal cutting rewards a nondescript service town.
Check in. Unpack. Coffee and kick back.
Novels summoned and rejected. Weather’s generosity should not be
free time proposes a walk along the tree cooled river
spirits float into a day whose urgency has escaped.
At the community centre
an unexpected number of vehicles
turns seen, but not read, into attention
one vehicle distinctive. Flower lined. The carriage of death.
Along the river the symphony of summer
hypnotic percussion of water, the overture of crickets
shifting patterns of shade, score light
bright blue of hope, heavy green of loss.
The car park opposite is almost empty now
except for volunteers washing dishes and floors
folding away tables stacking chairs. Returning neutrality
wedding or funeral. The venue pays no mind.
In the early evening a walk in sinking heat
through the domain, past the boat ramp
unexpectedly the cemetery. Wreaths and fresh earth.
This is the end, or beginning, theology makes the rules.
Tyres squeeze gravel, a door clunks closed
the man remains in the car a newspaper for company
a woman stands graveside. This is her grief. His is done.
Last, last day goodbye, in the last light of day.
An engine starts. A full bodied wave from the man
an anorexic smile from the woman
a slow ascent to the highway the flickering indicator waits patiently.
He talks animatedly. She looks back to dead ground.
Circumstances retreat slowly motelward
bringing to mind a schoolboy escaping blame
sad a neutral party punished
but pleased to abscond from direct pain.