4. olius_brightwell


He is young, but his skin is old,
Wrinkled and coffee-stained,
He holds a toothy grin kept from his childhood,
And mud puddle eyes speckled with cracked pepper,

He cracks a beer and whistles to his dog,
While I handle a paper that is far too white,
He perches on a rocking chair, feet in slippers,
While I stand in polished shoes on a ragged rug,
He is right at home even with my company,
Under his roof we are somehow equal,

He is cordial like a glass of fine wine,
Yet dressed in a paper bag,
And none the worse for it, I note,
Letting ink fall to the pad,

He tells me that he is the nephew,
But has not seen her in years,
His life does not let him leave,
But he doesn't want to, I can tell,

He hasn't left in years,
Because he has all he wants,
Doesn't know what more there is to have,
And doesn't care, it is clear,

And so I cannot bring myself to ask,
What he would do with a fortune,
If he would be lured from his home,
If he would be parted from his dog,

He discusses his life, unlike an interview,
Not answering, but replying,
For there is a return to every question
That settles on me and my life
With things I cannot explain,

I am from the city I tell him,
I handle other people’s money,
But then I say, ‘tell me,
What do you do for a living?’

I try to act like a journalist,
But he is a gentleman in asking,
‘Have you ever worked a backhoe?’
Because that is all he knows,

That is it, that is all he does,
Besides walking his dog and filling out crosswords,
Never had a family, never had a wife,
And never wondered why,

He accepts it all with a head up,
As if change was not a reality,
But a concept discussed in philosophy,
And to live life was to accept life,

He seems pleasant, but I am afraid,
Is he too stuck in his ways?
What will he say, what will he do?
When I deliver the news?

He sits back with a creak and a shuffle,
Reaches for his reading glasses,
Begins to mumble,
Scratching his knee with a dirty nail,
Sweat in his thinning hair,
Beneath a whirring fan that covers his building thoughts,
And my whispering fears.

After a moment, he fixes a stare
On me and my smooth clothes,
As if I was the guide to another world,
As if I would take him from his home,

He folds the paper with hands that shake,
And rises with creaky knees,
Ignoring his dog, he steps to the window,
Ignoring me, he begins to hum,

I hear his voice, his fears, his emotions,
As his chest resonates, and his eyes close,
Then he turns and whispers…
‘I don’t want it, take it away,’

I gape and breathe, wondering if he understands,
But his eyes tell enough to keep the silence,
He sits on the floor, between the beer cans,
And places a hand on his dog,

‘I don’t need it,’ he says,
‘I don’t want it. You can have it.
You cannot buy me up.’

I frown and explain, the money is his,
He has all the freedom to decide how to live,

‘No,’ he says. ‘I will not own that money,
Because, Mr. Charles, it will end up owning me.’

The End

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