Apparitions of an old man

Moments of clarity, moments of illusion, and which is which.

Apparitions of an old man, not quite retirement age, slumped in a chair. His eyes hooded, insomnia shaded skin. But he sits here, waiting. For something. He has low expectations, so sitting does him well.

No clock, no time, just this blurred embryo of now. Is there harm in dreaming about later? Depends on the circumference of later. Worse, the same, and then worse? Circular. First you love without examination, then you reach for a hand to trust, and then you love with bricks in your veins, and calculate the wear. You crawl into your craven self when things get shaky, and the doubts stack up like playing cards, and the wounds become less transparent. But you still want.

Apparitions of an old man, skin as used and pale as rag water. Hard-worn clothes, pockmarked neck, lumpy hands, clay bones. He would love, if he could remember how, if the blood didn’t stain his thoughts. Too used up to cry, but it’s all in the sound of his voice, the slippery, mossy words wet with storms.

I remember when,” he says, and laughs. Or chokes. The joke’s on him, always has been, so it’s the only joke he knows. “But hey, I came through all right,” but of course he didn’t. That’s part of the illusion, part of the clarity.

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