BY AFTERNOON. . .
A wayfarer stopped by yesterday as I was writing out a Russian folk song on the roadside chalkboard. I heard a scooter approach and then the engine die. Behind me was a small fellow who never took his padded helmet off. Printed “Bell” on the front. Stayed on. Like he was holding his brains together, or more likely so he could remain comfortable with himself. Sweetheart came out to be with me so the man met us both. As people drove by they waved to us. One fellow, in a dusty and boxy and broken in like a leather saddle Volvo came slinking by, and the bearded young driver had a look and a smile and a conniving, just like Lucifer, and he shouted out of his window pleasantly, “I love the chalkboard!” I’ve never seen him before. Life is grand. This new stranger is seventy-six years old, he told us. From the road the man read aloud the folk song on the chalkboard. So here was involvement! Here was a singer! The longer he stayed with us, and us with him (over an hour), the more he resembled an old Unitarian minister friend I used to know and worked for. I did a lot of carpentry on the minister’s summer home. This stranger visiting had busted teeth, strange to see in someone so well-dressed and with the neat little scooter he parked, and when he smiled (not at all shy to do so) he now really resembled the dead minister friend. When he started slowly but surely to preach the gospel, clever not to overwhelm (maybe where he got the busted teeth?), he convinced Sweetheart and me that he was a return of someone long gone.
Monday was a day between town and country where we were meeting many of the dead. The day before, I had written a sequence of poems on the road in New Hampshire. Yesterday I scribbled swiftly five new poems while waiting for a door to open. A long wait. Well over an hour. I met up with all sorts of street characters, which I liked. The poems came swiftly. Visitations. The wayfarer, before he left, confided to us that he has trouble meeting people and staying friends. “I think it’s because of my excitement for life!” he said, stepping into the sunshine. And yes I could see a youthful squeeze to his two hands as he made fists adoring his own celebration. He shook those fists. I knew a religious sermon was coming next, but the warm spring sunshine had us all at that moment, bigger than any god.
photo: © Bob Arnold