Scrottle necked and thick whiskered he lent me an ear,
his salmon lobes sweating with hair and gristle.
It wasn’t clear if he was listening, his raspy breathing
shaking the windows in their casements. My secrets
were to remain buried deep in his auricular channels,
lodged in silt, creaky vessels on estuarine shelves.
At times, his great head lolled on his shoulders,
and his rheumy eyes rested a little too long on mine,
and I feared my mumbled words may sprow out,
thickened and darkened with their immersion.
But his eyes would soon move on to the next drink,
his belly rising up and down like the tide.
I watched him daily at the bar, his skin thickened,
reddened and glowering with the heat of the day.
The sun had ploughed deep crevices into his neck,
through which his briny sweat ran, tempering the edges
of his work shirts. More animal than man,
he growled and grimaced before feeding,
bending over to bite at his meat and spoon in
careless mouthfuls. After watching him daily
during a wet monsoon season,
I finally left town on a long distance bus,
departing with little ceremony, the heat of the day
making us sluggish and ill tempered.
He promised not to tell the thing that I should
never have shared, though it was probably lost
anyway, my words neither tethered nor treasured,
declarations of love lost in the water, in deep flooded creeks.