the hedge full of ripe
and unripe blackberries
I hear his voice in the lane through the open kitchen window asking a neighbour which house is mine. 'Lynne Rees,' he's saying, 'she used to have the bookshop in West Malling.' When I open the door he looks more or less the same as he did seven years ago: not so many teeth but the same beard and tweed hat, the same waterproof jacket with a reflective stripe, his trouser pockets bulging like panniers with all the strange bits and pieces he collects on his wanderings, and the usual two Tesco carrier bags so he constantly looks as if he's heading to, or returning from, the supermarket. He has a belated Christmas card for me, he says, has been waiting until he was in these parts. Today's the first of August. I wish I could remember his name.
He tells me how nice it is to see me again, how people still miss my bookshop. He reminds me I had four rooms filled with books, well, four if he includes the room where the staff took their break. And did I ever buy a John Bull printing set? 'Well, goodbye,' he says abruptly, raising an arm almost in salute.
With very best Wishes, from, Clive Hill. CHRISTMASTIME: 2006. OFFHAM, KENT. he's written, with obsessive attention to punctuation, on one side of the card. On the opposite side there's an account of CB Radio: 25th ANNIVERSARY, 2nd Nov. 1981 - 2006, the UK and European bands, the number of channels, the wattage.
Early that evening, I'm driving home through the narrow lanes and see him ahead of me at a bend, still clutching his carrier bags. He steps back onto the verge, looks to his left for approaching traffic then energetically waves me on. I wave back and smile but he stares at me as if he has never seen me before.
a man closer than I think
in my side-view mirror
Lynne Rees is the author of a novel, a collection of poetry, and co-author of a volume of short collaborative prose. Her haiku have previously been published in journals, big sky (Red Moon Press 2007), Contemporary Haibun 8 (Red Moon Press 2007) and the 2007 & 2008 Snapshot Press Haiku Calendars. Two haibun have also been selected for the British Haiku Society Haibun Anthology to be published in 2008. She lives in England and France. www.lynnerees.co.uk