Scenes from a life by Ian C. Smith

Telling them, all this scene lacks is pissing down rain. They gather in the living room, theirs, but not his after this day, to hear his life-altering news, clichéd, instead of the truth about the woman who enchants him, desire out of control. His speech sounds strangled, coiling thickly from his shifting heart as though stricken to be caressed by such a treacherous tongue before emerging for them all to hear. In the presence of their stunned mother he talks to each child, remorseful words of daddy-love sounding hollow. The youngest bursts into tears as if on cue, stopping when her father chokes up, too. A B-grade actor’s big scene, it is over in minutes. No time for questions. This part of his plan, the packed bag in his car, the scandalous leave-taking, works, the years ahead, the unscripted part.

He has done the dishes, made his bed, ignores dust. Veils of fog shroud his sequestration. He struggles to retain an ironic viewpoint about once in a lifetime love, knows hurt is contagious. In an attractive hand she pencilled poems brimming with passion. Untouched for thirty years, he unfolds them, a rediscovered secret. A pressed orchid he thinks at first is a daddy longlegs, spills into his lap. Here is her photograph he took in those bare rooms rented so they could meet, always briefly, kissing, caressing, whispering, breathless. Done raging about the grey web spinning about them separately these years, he calls his beloved dog, disappears, a fading silhouette bowing into the fog like an unsuccessful hunter in the final scene of a diptych.

 

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Ian C. Smith’s work has appeared in the Amsterdam Quarterly, Antipodes, cordite, Poetry New Zealand, Poetry Salzburg Review, Southerly, & Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia, and on Flinders Island, Tasmania.