One day a silent man arrives
At your door in an outdated suit,
Threadbare and black, like a lost mourner
Or a Bible salesman who’s been robbed.
Penniless, he needs a place to stay.
And you, magnanimous you, soon find
This stranger reading in your chair,
Eating your cereal, drinking your tea,
Or standing in your clothes at the window
Awash in afternoon’s alien light.
You tire of his constant company.
Your floorboards creak with his shuffling footfalls,
Haunting dark rooms deep in the night.
You lie awake in blackness, listening,
Cursing the charity or pride
That opened up the door for him
And wonder how to explain yourself.
He smells like durian and smoke
But it’s mostly his presence, irksome, fogging
The mind up like breath on a mirror . . .
You practice cruelty in a mirror,
Then practice sympathetic faces.
You ghoul. Your cunning can’t deceive you.
You are afraid to call your friends
For help, knowing what they would say.
It’s just you two. You throw a fit when
He sneaks water into the whisky bottle,
Then make amends. You have no choice
Except to learn humility,
To love this stranger as yourself,
Who won’t love you, or ever leave.