A Tall Man

A tall man
standing at the open door
of a parked car
makes me wonder
as I pass
walking back from the supermarket
on a Saturday afternoon
with a backpack
full of groceries
(mainly wine and beer)

An elderly woman
hobbles towards me, smiling
“Ciao” calls the man
from behind me
his intonation
making it a greeting
“I didn’t know you were coming”
says his mum.

© Daniel Stephens, 2019


Illustration by Anya Lauri

I don’t mind
the burning sensation
the runny nose
the itchy eyes
having to stay indoors
or the spit
dripping down my visor
when I ride my motorcycle
to work.

What does get on my nerves
is my wife
when she tells me
I sneeze too loudly.
But you shout
when you sneeze,
she accuses
can’t you close your mouth?

If I do that,
I explain
for the millionth time,
the pressure of the sneeze
will be so great
it’ll make my ears pop,
which hurts.
My eyes will bulge
out of my head
Once I even did
a solid fart,
which wasn’t nice.

Sorry if I bother you
I’ll go somewhere else
and die quietly
No that’s OK, she says,
you’re right
it must be worse for you.
After forty-five years,
I tell her,
I’m used to it
I don’t mind.

© Daniel Stephens, 2019