Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Poet O: Prologue

A light rain outside wakes me from a heavy sleep. Silently I slip from the warm bed without waking my lover. I dress in the dark and leave without turning on a light.

Outside I hail a taxi, the only car on the street. The driver is hidden by the dark. He says nothing when I give him the address. The car speeds through the night. All the traffic lights are green. I fall asleep.

When I wake up the cab is stopped, stuck in traffic by the Park. The driver is gone. I look out the window and see cars all round, but nothing is moving. The street is getting lighter. It's the moment before the day begins. I try to get out and find the door jammed. I throw my weight at it and manage to force it open just enough for me to crawl out.

When I stand up I find myself in the middle of the street, in gridlock. Cars are bumper to bumper as far back as I can see down the street. Ahead, the same, except that the street ends at the park a few hundred yards ahead. Nothing but me moves. There are no drivers and no passengers in any of the cars.

I walk toward the park, picking my way between the cars. The Park has overgrown it's borders and spills out into the street that once defined it's edge. Trees are growing in the sidewalk, on the street, between cars. Soon I am climbing over big roots, brushing away branches. I trip over an embedded root as I enter the Park and fall on my face.

When I get up the sun has come up. The Park is full of people. It's morning and nothing has changed. I look back for the jungle and it is gone. Traffic flows by on the street. A hand on my shoulder startles me.

It is a wild old man with stringy hair. He clutches a sheaf of rumpled papers. "A poem for a dollar.

"I am the Poet O."

"I don't need a poem."

"You need this poem. Sit here while I write."

I sat on the bench with him. He took out a Bic pen and opened his notebook to a blank page.

"You are a lover. I will write you a love poem."