Isolation Poem by Bobby Motherwell

She watches them from the corner, chair unstable beneath her, rocking on three points. She wraps one foot around the short chair leg as a prop to stabilise, it doesn’t work. Don’t get comfy hen.

They must be brothers, both of an age and height, eyes deep set, hands like shovels fresh from the fields. Shared labour duties evident. The barman eyes the tv in the corner above her; mobile cradled in his hand, thumb tapping away, eyes shifting up and down as his point of disinterest readjusts.

‘Did you write this?’ One says to the other nodding at the unfolded sheet in his hand.

‘Aye’ he hides his guilt behind his pint, taking a long draught.

She felt the silence hang like a lost trust. And then.

‘Poetry? Really? How long have you been hiding this?’

‘A few months, mibbe a year’

And when – paused as if for effect – their eyes finally met, ‘Are you ok?’ His furrowed brow finally eased, pursed lips to a smile.

‘Ya bastard!’ Their laughs resonating off every wall in the room. The old man at the end of the bar gives them a cold stare over his paper, returning to it quickly.

She tended to her glass; stirring the ice and lime. From the corner of her eye they were sharing fist bumps and wide smiles.

The volume from the tv above her gradually increased and now drowned out their laughter; the barman’s attention drawn to the news bulletin. She cranes her neck to look up. The brothers also, their public intimacy interrupted.

‘…. and so it with this in mind and for the safety of all of us, I have to announce that all pubs, restaurants and cafes should close forthwith….’ was all she heard.

The barman’s mobile went off in his hand. He put it to his ear, nodded. She watched as the call finished. He flicked the remote and the tv died.

‘Right folks, that’s it, the bar is shut. Drink up and go’

And without question and as a flock they obeyed – a threshold to a new world order must now be crossed. And as one, they downed the contents of their glasses and avoiding eye contact lest they see their own disorientation reflected back, headed out into the street.

And as she walked alone, to be alone, isolation looming, her loneliness compounded and her singularity magnified, she wondered only of the brothers, the confession, their intimacy and each word in his poem she would never know.


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