Sunday, February 24, 2008


It is earlier in the morning than he intended when he draws back the bedroom curtains and peers out of the window. Takes stock.

glorious conkers
fallen in the night
the paper boy
misses a skip

A better Spicing than his yesterday evening he could not have imagined. Every one of his remaining longtime friends there, even those who were themselves squeamish about Withdrawing. A fine evening for the time of year; and when the high point of the celebration came, the ushers from the Terminal carried the Spicing Cup and the Withdrawal Cake out onto the patio, it was still so warm. The silver Cup had gone round from hand to hand without a drop of dew forming on it. A ceremony at once sober and lighthearted; nothing to embarrass.

a suppressed wind
until the night air
can bear it no more

Now the morning of the day itself is come. His steady hand smoothes a small crease from the Withdrawal Robe laid out neatly on the spare bed the night before; the spare bed where until she died his wife used to sleep. More now than ever he feels sorry she did not Withdraw, but took the more traditional way out of the world.

When the ushers come for him with the almost silent stretched limousine, he hands over the keys of the house and the chauffeur seals them in an envelope and puts them in his pocket. As they make the three circuits of the house, he wants to sing, a song about the wind through the trees, didn't they say though, the art was to Withdraw in silence?

But finally, when they have passed through the saltmarshes and reached the staithe where they must wait for the tide to swell under the ferry boat, and he can see through the haze the gates of the Golden Park, and the island and the Terminal itself, one of the ushers slots a CD into the car radio and plays a cantata by Bach.

sea lavender
a ship with an empty hold
putting out to sea

by David Cobb
Braintree, Essex, England
from Business in Eden, Equinox Press, 2006

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