Ian C. Smith

Walking Out

Sleepless in a tent long after midnight at a campsite over Easter, family snoozing, spent, despite other holidaymakers’ drunken revelry, I slip away to walk a moonlit corridor to anywhere. The only sound my footfalls, the long, straight farmland road deserted, my thoughts about to be that of how lasting memories form, I am spooked by distant movement, someone else afoot, heading my way.

My mirror-image except that he hefts a large box as if having hastily decamped with only treasured possessions, he stares straight ahead as we eventually pass, my mind racing, a scene from an absurdist movie, silent phantasms of the night, me heading into my fraught future, him towards my past, some of which I shall cut off, leave to the inequalities of memory.

Telling them, my speech sounds strangled, coiling thickly from my heart as if stricken to be caressed by such a treacherous tongue, them gathered in the living-room—theirs, but not mine after this day—to hear my life-altering news, clichéd, skulking, instead of the truth about a woman they know who enchants me, desire beyond control.

Remorseful words of daddy-love hollow, my wife stunned, our youngest bursts into tears, then stops when I, too, choke up. My B-grade actor’s pathetic role over in minutes, no time for questions part of my plan, packed bag stowed in my car’s dark, this scandalous leave-taking works, but I can’t know about the years ahead, oh, those years beyond imminent urgent days therefore unscripted.

dust motes
drift in slant light
Courtroom Number One

Since that eerie camping encounter I walk many roads; late education, literature’s embrace, taking my place in those hallowed halls; hundreds of hitch-hiked miles across faraway places; roads to airports, desolate wharfs, more pitched tents; then with my second family, a belated groping for harmony, yet not without regret, the past ever calling to me.

Double-bed permanently made on one side now. Some gnawed dreams realised, others lost or forgotten. My lover’s poems pencilled in an attractive hand brim with passion as I unfold them, untouched for thirty years. A pressed native orchid I think at first is a daddy longlegs spills into my lap.

my sequestration
veiled in fog; I cling
to my ironic viewpoint