Here Now
                                                                                                by Ray Brown
 
Somewhere a bell rings.
 
He sits on a green plastic chair. Pallid sunlight daubs brick paving. He watches fat, glistening families, knee deep, staring south over Mediterranean glitter. Advanced guard, he thinks, preparing for a Darwinian switchback. He remembers her in the blue-black Adriatic.
 
The sun goes in.
 
He drives the blue Citroen through Zagreb, torrential rain, lightning, high-rise blocks. She navigates, turning the map. The smell of rain and black tobacco.
 
A nurse in pale blue chats with a cook in pale green: ‘Oh, look, it’s drizzling.’
 
He leaves the shade of a willow tree, heading for the peach grove. She washes her hair in a bowl of lake water. ‘Have a good one,’ she says. He laughs, waves the toilet roll. There is nowhere he would rather be.
 
‘Come on, Harry. You’ll catch your death.’ The cook touches
the old man’s shoulder. 
 
He stands on top of the camper van, arms outstretched
against a starry night. She sits with Bojan, a sleepy
cooking fire glows like a rainbow. Laughing. Drunk.
Nightingales.
 
‘Harry? Oh my god. Mavis! Mavis!’
 
No man’s land in the nick of a mountain hairpin. Frying
aubergine, tomatoes and garlic on a twig fire. Cowbells.
 
The priest raises his hand.
 
Evening breeze on her hair. She says, ‘I must wash it tomorrow.’ Frogs croak. An accordion plays.
 
The nurse genuflects.
 
Walking a sandy lane. Hand in hand. Cicadas.
 
Curtains open.
 
Deserted beach. Crimson sun sinking. Flap of Adriatic wavelets.
 
The nurse says, ‘He’s gone then.’

 

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