Sunday, July 27, 2008

Henry.

Henry was a
compulsive liar
who made up
stories all the time
because he didn't
feel so great about
where he was in life.

He would
tell his friends
how he had been
in Disneyland
just the other week
even though
they all
knew
he had actually
driven himself
to Club Yarrawonga.

He had the sticker
on the back of his car.

Stay longer
at Club Yarrawonga!

When his friends
asked him why he
hadn't
settled down
found a good woman
bought a house
had some kids
planned
for
the future
Henry would tell
them how the
dangerous nature
of his work
meant he had
to keep his emotional
ties to a minimum
couldn't put
others at risk
needed to be able
to pack up at any minute
ready for his next
death defying
assignment.

His friends all knew that
Henry repaired
photo copiers
yet they humoured
him for Henry was at
heart a good man
just a little lost
a little different
a little
sad.

They knew that
Henry worked a dreary
day amongst the grey
cattle of the concrete
tombstones
knew that he could barely
afford his one bedroom
apartment knew that he
kept a pet
a yellow
canary in a large cage
by his lounge room
window and that he
called it Hope and spent
most of his nights
alone sitting in his
armchair and talking with
Hope about how one day
things might be different.

Henry would place
his finger in between
the bars of Hope's cage
and wriggle it a little
and Hope would
spring close and nibble
the skin and nail
and they were the best
of friends
and Henry
would tell Hope
the tales
of lost
bored
depression
and the
little yellow bird
never judged him.

One day Henry
lost his job
couldn't keep up
with the rent
didn't want to ask
his friends for help
so he told them he'd
been transferred
interstate
and sold his possessions
not much but he
got enough for
an old station wagon
which would do
for a house
and just drove
north to
nowhere in particular
with Hope sitting
in his cage
in the back seat
singing.

A few days out
they passed a woman
crying by the side of the
highway and so Henry
pulled over and talked
to her for a while
turned out her husband
had left her
taken her money
she'd had to move out
couldn't keep up
the payments the bank
was shutting her down
her whole life
taken from her
that's the way it is
sometimes she said
but she'd had enough
of the world
so she'd decided to just
sit and cry as the
world drove by.

Henry said
trust me
I understand
and he held out
his hand
and she took it and
they sat on the
warmth of the bonnet
under the night
and the lights of the
cars lit their faces
as they talked
and they saw something
in each other
a spirit maybe
or just a friend.

There was no moon
that night
just cars and stars
and the stories
they told
and Henry didn't
lie
not once
he just told her how
he thought
he was nothing
really
and didn't want to
burden anyone
and how he'd
packed up and left
and he didn't know
where he was going
and that the only
thing that mattered
to him was his little
yellow canary.

She thought that
was beautiful
and they kissed
a gentle kiss
right there
on the highway
two of the lost
with no money
in their pockets
no plan for the future
nowhere to go
just a tank full of gas
and the clothes on their
backs
and as they
held each other
close
they could hear
from the backseat
the
bright
song
of a
tiny
yellow bird
called
Hope.

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