From my screened front porch with

sagging wicker chairs beyond begging

for a coat of white paint I watch

a man walk down my morning street

Hidden by a Boston fern that lived

all winter with barely surviving

geraniums now blooming scarlet like

the blood of Christ my mother says

The man wears a backpack, blue shirt

on Wednesdays, midweek casual as

he puts strawberry scented chapstick

on his dry lips efficiently

That he doesn't see me watching him

guessing the course of his day

while I wait for the sun, listening

to the beginnings of another dawn

Matters very little or makes all the

difference if details tell stories

that otherwise would remain in

someone's backpack or pockets

I am just going outside and maybe

sometime he will notice me, wonder

why my braids are damp or slippers

soggy with dewfall like yesterday

When the night sky was all mine

and the fireflies flirted as birds

finally stopped singing worm songs in

temporary darkness where dreams of

Days past and yet to happen blend

blurring in possibility as my fears float up

joining unseen clouds and my hopes are

just enough weight, like a gentle blanket


It is conceivable that someone perusing this node on this site might not know the historical context of moeyz’s excellent and thought-provoking writeup above. So allow me to be Mistress of the Obvious for a moment and give context.

The title of this node is a famous quote from Captain Lawrence Edward Grace "Titus" Oates, a British army officer who accompanied Robert Falcon Scott on the Terra Nova expedition through Antarctica in search of the South Pole. Oates, who had contracted frostbite and gangrene, said these last words as he walked out of a tent into a blizzard, committing suicide in order to prevent the expedition from spending further resources on keeping him alive.

The apparent casual tone of the quote was chosen by Oates in order to forestall anyone from attempting to search for him while he was still alive.

As a result of this strategy, Oates is sometimes considered a classic example of the “stiff upper lip” supposed British philosophy, and noble in his self-sacrifice.

Brevity Quest 2019 entry, 169 words

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