Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What’s Unsaid

two people kissing
through the café window
the glitter of rain

That’s what she told me when she came home.

It was already dark. Everyone had left except for the old man. She turned the ‘Closed’ sign to face the street, wiped down all the other tables, emptied ashtrays, refilled ketchup bottles, and straightened the plastic menus. She went out back for the steel pail and mop and washed the floor. The old man had his back to her. Five to six.

‘Have you finished, love?’ she said.

She walked over to him. ‘I’ve got to lock up now.’

‘Five minutes,’ he said without looking at her.

She leant against the counter and watched the traffic lights change on the High Street.

At six, as usual, the old man got up from his table.

‘See you tomorrow,’ she said.

The bell on the door clattered.

She slurried the mop around where he’d been sitting. She picked up his mug and left it in the sink. She dropped the crumpled sugar packets in her overall pocket because she’d already taken out the rubbish.

And that’s when she saw them. After she’d turned out the main lights, just as she was opening the door.

a black umbrella
blows inside out — too late
to say sorry

Blue Tattoo November 2007


  1. That last haiku is such a striking image. The way an umbrella disembowels iteslf, showing its insides, like when someone has said too much and can't take it back.

    Fantastic writing. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Really enjoyed reading the story. Is it going to be published in Blue Tattoo - a great little magazine?

  3. Thanks for commenting, Caroline. Yes, it's in this November's issue of Blue Tattoo, though I haven't seen it yet. The haibun (prose and haiku) generally tends to deal with 'life-story' so it's a bit of an experiment to play around with fiction and still aim for a resonance with the haiku. Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Thanks jem. Being much more a poet than a prose writer I find I work a lot with concrete images, trying to make them so much more than themselves, significant and suggestive not just descriptive. They're not always easy to find though... ;-)