Bio Note: My author/poet name is Rose Mary Boehm. If I didn’t write, especially poetry, I’d probably be up for autistic in five languages. A German-born UK national, I now live in Lima, Peru. While my heart occasionally rummages in German, my mouth speaks Spanish, my spirit is playing in English, and I often have to look up a French word in the dictionary. My fifth poetry collection Do Oceans Have Underwater Borders is earmarked for publication by Kelsay Books around May-June 2022.
Having a Beer in the Canoe Club
The tables and benches are wet. Barges on the Rhine low their mourning. Water stands high after the rains. On the opposite bank, the sharp chimneys of the steelworks entertain us with reflected-light swordplay. As far as we can see the meadows are empty, bushels of grass on mounds above the alluvium. We lift our glasses. A solitary canoe is berthing at the jetty. I don’t have fibromyalgia, you say. I have cancer. And the silence changes colour and our eyes won’t meet.
Originally published in Atticus.
While I waited, I pulled up my collar. My glasses misted over, I huddled under the awnings of the bakery. The particulates of freshly baked bread wafted from the open door every time a client entered or left. Not sure whether I could escape—taxi or bus, the lack of visibility was the same. Cold moisture pushed through the fabric of my woolen coat, climbed up its sleeves, pushed down from the collar onto my neck and shoulders. Veering between spending money I didn’t have but at least sitting in the comfortable warmth of a taxi, and the bus that might never come, I remembered a story my husband once told me. One of these foggy London days, at a time when coal fires had made things even worse, he and other, older boys lost young charges in the Zoo. After four hours they’d found eight, and abandoned the search for two more who got home to their frantic parents at about midnight. He laughed. I always thought I missed the joke.
The Old Poet Alone in His Usual Café
I suppose I am just old. But it’s not so much how old I feel, I feel abandoned. They all went. And it’s not right that the young ones go first. Just now there is the last one struggling. My sister's kid. Cancer everywhere. I know, it’s inevitable. But not the way things ought to be. A poem won’t do. My Lisa loved it here. First spooned off the cream from her cappuccino... That crooked smile of hers, the way she told me off. ‘Old codger’ she used to call me and wink. Listened, really listened, when I read her my latest. She kept her birthmark—just over her lip. Could have had it removed. It turned me on, gave her the coquette air of a bygone era. I think once they had artificial ones—stuck them on. Sometimes I don’t remember her face. That makes me miss her even more. She loved red. And now it’s the damned pandemic. People see me sitting here and leave again. Social distancing. As though we hadn’t distanced well before. When was the last time someone touched me? The day they killed my oldest in Afghanistan. That was the last straw. Told him he was an idiot going to war for the rich and mighty. Defending the free world? Don’t make me laugh. Oil and pipelines. Free? They lock you up when you write the wrong poem. And then they took my boy. I am glad she didn’t have to live that loss, the aloneness of old age, the unanswerable question: What was the point?
Originally published in publication
©2021 Rose Mary Boehm
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