The phone reduces him to one-handed left-handedness. Throughout the call, the right hand stays upright as if carrying the weight of the conversation on its palms, and the fingers fight through flying hair to glue the handset to the ears.
But his left hand is animated enough for two, he waves it around like a baton in a traffic cop’s hand, the words wouldn’t grind to a halt as long as he keeps waving them onward.
He bends forwards, a little stupidly, neck tilted downwards so that his whispers warn off the ants that fall one by one into the strangulated burrs of his socks. He takes care to walk in the shade but the sunbeams seeks him out from behind the trees to shoo off the music in his ears and the words from his throat until he hears nothing, sees nothing, till he is freed of that white hot blindfold.
Admitting defeat, he walks a suddenly splay-legged walk, hands-in pocket kicking his feet forward as if he is sending the very air that is filled with his voice heavenward with a prayer.
A slower gait that carries the dread of silence in each step appears when sentences start all over again, trying vainly to jump over every inarticulate attempt, when the pause that breathes with weariness grows longer between words that mask them, when time threatens to gnash its teeth and prompt a glance at the clock.
And he will walk faster when a sudden exclamation, a promising turn of phrase, a confession in the garb of a story steps in redeem him.
He has wept over a million lines of verse but they stay only long enough to desert him when a dry throat seeks to make them his own.
His voice hadn’t music enough for poetry and his memory hadn’t tricks enough to wrestle down silence and pin it flat in submission. He hadn’t the art of painting the happenings of a day in anecdotal colours and say, “Guess what happened” and really make her guess.
His fingers grip a low-slung branch and pulls it downward like a slingshot, scarcely noticing the fleeing butterfly, the cloud burst of leaves, the bare-headed agony of the branch when it swings back into a sunless place.
The world walks past him, shaking its head at his unmoving intent one, the length of grass that has been trod read in the marks of his shoe soles the distance he has travelled.
And when a merciful tower snaps its fingers in disgust, his right arm will ache itself back to existence. Blinking like a man who’s been reborn, he looks at the number that briefly flashes on the screen before fading out regretfully. He has been dead for thirty nine minutes and twenty three seconds.
Each of the seams of his pocket insides writhe with the unspent change of speech, he sighs before fishing out the phone and dialling again.
6 months ago