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Three prose poems

Simon Collings


Dolores had been reading a story in the inflight magazine about strange coincidences – ‘synchronicity’ as the writer called it. One of these stories concerned a woman on a business trip who had reconnected with a childhood sweetheart after a chance encounter in a hotel bar, and later married him. Dolores suspected the story was a fabrication, it was just too improbable. But checking in at her hotel she found herself standing next to a man of around her own age who looked vaguely familiar. While the clerk verified her reservation the man turned towards her. ‘Don’t I know you?’ he asked. ‘Dolores Ramón,’ she said holding out her hand. ‘How extraordinary. I’m Martin, Martin Longmore.’ He took her hand. ‘This is so weird.’ Dolores said, ‘I was just reading about chance meetings like this on the plane.’ They agreed straight away to have dinner together, and Martin suggested a place nearby. ‘I still can’t believe it’s happening,’ Dolores said, when they’d taken their seats in the restaurant. ‘Yes it’s strange, but a very pleasant surprise.’ ‘Did you notice they gave us table 16? That’s the age we were when we met.’ ‘I didn’t see that,’ Martin said. ‘But now I think of it, I was in seat 16D on the plane.’ The waiter brought menus and drew their attention to a large blackboard on the wall listing the evening’s specials. Dolores looked over at the board, then froze. ‘Oh my god,’ she said. ‘I don’t believe it. My ex-husband is seated at the other end of the restaurant. He’s with a woman.’ Martin scanned the far end of the room. ‘You mean over in the corner? But this is utterly bizarre, the woman he’s with…is my ex-wife.’

Who’s speaking?

Bill hadn’t had an original thought in a very long time. In fact it had been so long he couldn’t think back to when exactly it was, let alone recall what the thought had been. The more he considered, the more he wondered if he had ever, strictly speaking, had a genuinely novel idea. Back in the distant past he thought he had once had ideas of his own, that at least was the image that took shape in his mind. But he was hard pressed to think of particular examples, and when he did finally recall something it was an idea he remembered he had subsequently discovered was something others had already thought of, in some instances many years before. This was something he recollected happening on a number of occasions. He had the feeling not of being a source of autonomous, free thoughts, but of ideas entering his mind from outside, the concepts arising not from any effort on his part, but coalescing out of the swirl of language in his head, like shadowy figures emerging from the mist.

The bench

The benches along the cliff-top all bear commemorative plaques, brief personal tributes to those who once spent happy hours here gazing out to sea. My parents loved the place, and when my mother passed away it seemed natural for my father to want to remember her in this way. So we applied for a bench, and had a small plate engraved ‘In loving memory of Grace Simpson’, followed by her dates. My father died a few years later and I had no further reason to visit the town. I was an only child, with no lasting ties to the area, and I hadn’t been there for some years. Now that I was staying for a couple of days on business I took the opportunity to seek out the bench dedicated to my mother’s memory. I had no idea if the seat would still be there but it was, exactly where I remembered it. A second brass plaque, I noticed, had been added to the right of the original one.  It read: ‘How I wish I had known you – your loving daughter Margaret.’

copyright © Simon Collings, 2020

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