Thursday, January 6, 2011

C.V.'s Birthday

The day after Christmas
I hear C.V. before I see him:
a beautiful baritone voice.

Only if you can, please!
Only if you can.

He jingles a plastic cup. He sees me.
"Hello, love. How are you?"

I have some change for him.
For the Season,

His cup has a jester ring of red and green
felt spikes with bells on the end.
It's Holiday: the cup is full of fold.

I drop a quarter in.
"How was your Christmas?"

The day before Christmas he said,
"Some asshole stole my bike."
"That's bad."
"Too cold to ride it anyway."
He laughed. "I'm almost glad to let it go."

But for Christmas, he had a wonderful time.
His former wife's children had him over.
She died some time ago.
It makes him sad
And he drank a little.

"You know," he says. "I never drink.
But I thought one wouldn't hurt."

I nod. He changes his story.
"I stood up and I was dizzy.
And the kids told me to sit down and rest.
I was drinking cranberry juice. I didn't know
anything was in it. And they just kept giving me more."

I nod again.
"But I had fun," he says.
"The only thing I feel bad about,
I wanted to take pictures of my children
and I forgot."

I nod, third time.
"You'll find another opportunity."
He nods back. "Yes I will."
He smiles at me. "New Year's Eve is my birthday."
"Well, how about that?" I smile back.
"Only if you can!" he calls. "Only if you can."

On New Year's Eve,
he has a boombox with him,
still playing Christmas music.
I slip a dollar in: "Happy Birthday."

6 comments:

Bob G. said...

Ann:
We've all encountered souls such as these...and heaven only knows what they've been through.

Nothing wrong with being charitable towards them, either.
Not one thing.

Good post (and prose)

CWMartin said...

"If only you can..." Very nice. Really took me there.

the observer said...

Ann T:
You are getter better and better at this! Indeed, your words painted the picture, strong and clear.

The Observer

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
Yes, I think he's had some hard knocks. Sometimes I think there's a gallantry even in that.

Thanks for writing in.

I've been wrassling Zombies and trying to make progress, about 10-12 hours a day here lately.

Ann T. said...

Dear CW,
Thank you! That's a high compliment.
Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Oh, good! Good to know that poetry impulse loses rust fast.

I am glad you enjoyed!
Ann T.