Stare at the Stones

Stare at the Stones

by Chris Biles
(Published on slipnet – the Stellenbosch Literary Project website, September 2012)

“My name is David.”
He puts down his grocery bag
with the loaf of bread sticking out
from the top.
“I have children.”
I nod,
then break our short moment of eye contact
to look at the tiny ants crawling
over the stones on the ground.

He walks down the steps behind me
leaving his bread
in its bag
on the bench
across from me.
I hear the light splatter of his urine
making contact
with the cement down below
– behind me, thankfully.
I picture it making a coloured
yet clear
I picture it splashing upon itself
and up onto his old, worn-out work boots.
I look at the stones on the ground,
at the ants.

He comes back,
sits down across from me.
I stare at the stones.
“I have children.”
His words slightly slurred.
A Friday, late morning,
sunny, beautiful day.
Yet his words blur together.
The days of rain before have ended,
the clouds have lifted and left.
Yet his words run together.
I know he watches me.
Like a challenge
he watches me watch the ground.
I look at him.

A blue cover-all,
tattered, faded,
held open
to reveal
stained teeth
and absent teeth,
the gray hair is a layer of fuzz
covering the face,
the whole head,
full of life, expectant.

Stare at the stones.

“I have children.”
Stare at the stones.

“My name is David.”
Stare at the stones.

“Miss, I love my children.”
Stare at the stones.

I know he won’t leave.
I must.

“Please, Miss.”
I gather my things,
take one last glance.
His eyes say no,
please don’t go.
Those round, curved, glistening pools
have life –
something within
that lives without,
that has always lived without,
but has lived.
They are pure,
childlike in their expectant,
ever-hopeful way.
And they focus on me.

Stare at the stones.

I stand.

I simply say:
“I hope you enjoy the sunshine,”
then walk away.



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