Both pieces are set in Toulouse, where I was first diagnosed and subsequently cured.
“There’s a journey we must go on and no more delay”
The slightly odd syntax – he’s speaking English for my benefit. The ‘we’ here, well that’s me really. It’s the medical sense of the word, as in ‘We’ve been eating a little too well, haven’t we?’ He’s a doctor, so it’s permissible, I suppose. This will be my journey, he, the tour guide Charon, will see me safely along.
I’ve travelled a lot, I’m in a strange place. It’s easy enough to say that it’s all in the journey, but where am I headed to this time? In walking terms, a hard and dangerous trek is an ‘epic’, especially where there’s been accidents and injuries along the way. Am I in for an epic? Is it going to be a jaunt? Will I have stories to tell at the end of it? I’m staring out of his window at some interesting hills, looks like good walking up that way. I’m glazing over, drifting off. There seems to be a lot of small talk. Do I want to hire a wig? There must be things to sign.
Many journeys are most enjoyable when they’re safely over. That’s when epics are made, not while you’re up to your waist in mud. Is he coming with me? Well yes, he knows the track. It should end well, he says. If not, then it just ends. Tuesday, there can be no delay. The tests are all in, now it is certain.
This place still glows long after the gloom has settled on the medieval streets. I have learned to look up, it’s a photographers’ trick. Any distraction is a good one now. I wish I’d come here sooner. I would have seen it differently, sketched out food reviews, not these failing elegies.
In Toulouse the sun sets slowly, it’s a long shadow across the plains. I’m trying to make a poem, but it isn’t coming easily. I’m counting my sunsets now, watching some of them from my hospital window. I don’t feel all that sick, but the tumour in my throat begs to differ.
I’d like to spend my evenings in Place Capitole with a glass of champagne, relaxing like a local as the buildings light up. This is my own sunset, but I’m not seeing an afterglow. There’s others in here, no one is glowing. You’d think from the radiation we’d be shiny at least, but it turns us all to grey.
The poem won’t work, I’m not really old enough for it. The evening of my years should not be now. Old is a far off time when maybe I can give sunset tours, teaching the tourists to look up.
The vision is a good one, but far from elusive. It’ll still appear when I’m gone.
I’m sorting through my photos now, It seems I was just waning, not fading. The poems, I thought they’d be many, never did get made. Still, I’ve got the time now, waiting for customers for my sunset tour.
Rue du Taur, Toulouse, France.