Marcus thinks I must write a book, any book, actually an autobiography. I do what I do best. I check Amazon. They have over 1,00,000 books under Memoirs. The top 14 includes Drew Barrymore, Eleanor Roosevelt, that American Sniper guy, Johnny Cash and someone called Regina Calcaterra who describes, sadly, an unspeakable childhood spent on Long Island. OK Marcus, you’ve got to be an actor, a president’s wife, a war hero(?), a singer or at the very least, must have suffered something terrible. This would be the time to scratch out memoirs and check the “If I were a circus elephant” or “Six ways to achieve work-life balance” categories. But Marcus still has his eyes fixed on me. I wrote a poem about it, I tell him, mediocre lives don’t translate into best sellers, even if you use an online thesaurus or the best free self-publisher on the planet.
Remember that memorial in Budapest, he says. All those stones and candles laid down for the dead, and that old man in the black hat, staring at you, telling you to photograph something, someone, a father perhaps or a brother. Remember it felt like you could feel his pain. Like you wanted to put your arms around him and cry his tears. And instead the American guide signalled and you averted your eyes and moved on. Marcus was standing now. Empathy. It’s all you need to write your story. Make your peace, love yourself a little, release some of that pain and hear your own story for the very first time. In real words.
No one cares Marcus. That old man’s sorrow can never be fixed. And the guide now follows a different route. And I do have some theories about a cricket ball juggling pachyderm.
outside my window
she chirps the same tune at dawn
does she know I’m still sleeping