Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Fever

He stares unseeing
Across the holiday crowd
At Trafalgar Square,
This is his first day out
After 4 days interned,
The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs on repeat,
A miasma of cigarette smoke and dread
In his modest Kensington spread.

His mind spins narratives,
Countless by the hour, alternatives,
As he thinks back
To his last meeting with her,
To the Cafe in the Crypt 
Under the church
Of St. Martin in the Fields.

Underground at the Crypt,
She meets him for their weekly tryst,
Kisses him on his cheeks,
At the appointed hour
She glows, vivacious, in comparison
Patrons around them look positively dour.
He’s delighted to see her,
Pretends to be calm,
He's penned his feelings for her
Into iambic tetrameter.
His heartfelt verse, he intends to read to her
During the last Act,
Between the Andante and the Scherzo
A pause by the musicians,
The Quartet Pizzicato.

They've had a lively conversation
For most of the evening,
He's kept his declaration under cover,
Wanting to preserve her good humour
For a majority of their meeting.
The quartet breaks,
Puts down their bows,
He braces himself, takes a deep breath
"Evelyn, I've something to say,
I hope you’ll allow me ..."
He starts reading his poem
With pauses apt,
He glances at her between lines
She listens, rapt
By light of flickering candle,
Her grey-green eyes grow larger
They’re more beautiful tonight
Than he can remember.

He's seen her for about a year,
But hidden his feelings,
Content with their innocent meetings,
Afraid of pushing her away,
But, he’s unable to keep
This beast within him asleep
The chest-burster from Alien
What a strange image!
He’s afraid it will consume him.
Tonight, there lurks within him
A devil-may-care madness
As he tells her about his love for her
He’s prepared for the consequent sadness.

He’s been with other women before,
But with Evelyn, it’s different
He's older, and prepared to settle down
In some out-of the-way town
A house by a farm,
Some animals, maybe even kids
A life of domestic bliss.

She's flattered, he can tell,
The swell of her breasts
Heave under her evening dress
She’s silent, doesn't know what to say,
But after a long pause,
She responds with quiet consideration
But it’s not quite the response
That he wants...
"I'm glad you've let me know,
I’m fond of you,
But I'm still in love with my current beau."

He’d prepared himself for this,
But it leaves him gutted
Suddenly, he doesn't feel so well
The room spins,
Its vaulted ceiling, adobe walls
Close in on him.
With unsteady hand
He tries to get a grip,
Pours them more wine, drinks deeply,
Feels a bit of his anxiety slip.
She complements him
On his choice of drop,
A full-bodied Shiraz
From the Barossa stock.
He speaks flippantly,
Tries to hide his pain
He takes in his every last lungful of her,
A condemned prisoner,
Content with his dying wish
This could be their last encounter,
Their last innocent tryst.

The quartet resumes,
They're playing Schubert's Trout
He's able to hear the music again,
But it will never quite feel the same.
Nor will a myriad other places
They’ve explored together
In this 8-millioned metropolis.
This is his city, dammit,
How dare she say no?
After this, how can he stay on here?
Its treasures damned by association and failure.

Back at Trafalgar Square,
Under Lord Nelson’s glare
A Taiwanese couple
Wakes him up from his reverie,
They ask him to take their picture, he acquiesces
They pose by the lions
With exaggerated plastic smiles
Pleasantries completed,
He walks on defeated,
Contemplates his own private Waterloo
As he sits by the steps
Next to Le Coq Bleu.

It’s a new exhibit on the Fourth Plinth
Before, it was endearing, now ludicrous,
And completely out of sync
With its surrounding milieu.
The giant blue bird smirks
At him from its perch
“Fuck off!”, he screams
At the infernal rooster,
Nonsensical modern art does not suit
His current black mood.

Blue skies, a gentle breeze, children holler
A mum with a stroller,
A tourist snaps a selfie
It all seems so god-damned cheery!
He wants to grieve,
Where are the clouds,
Intermittent drizzle, black umbrellas,
His beloved London weather?
He knows the cliche - “This too shall pass,”
But he doesn’t know how long
This fever will last.

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