Poetry

Fellow traveller

Credit: Andrew Bowden, see link below

“After his statement, Blunt, who is now 72, broke down in tears. Then he left the Times looking a lonely figure, and pursued by pressmen.”
BBC Nine O’Clock News, November 20, 1979

Rain for the last day that I will be known the way
that I want them to know me. Rain for reporters’
predictable leads on the darkening stain of my
name. Rain, like the morning you left with the
International Brigade, the streak of your face at the
glass when the train pulled away. The aspidistra
that refused to die; a miniature camera in a
Cambridge tie; to get that Soviet control to crack a
smile. All in our file, my fellow traveller. Sleep for
the telephone’s silent receiver on its beetle-black
back in the hall. Sleep for the bottle that rolled
off my desk and danced itself out on the floor.
Sleep for the overturned ashtray splayed across an
unmade bed, while I interrogate every word that
I ever said. I fall from buildings into angry air,
lecture my students in my underwear, but once
I was allowed to dream of you instead, my dear
defected fellow traveller – how you booked your
final passage with a passport that you paid for with
a pair of roller skates, how you dyed your hair and
moustache, put on a Mid-Atlantic accent but you
couldn’t stop the shakes when they asked where
you had come from, and you muttered, “That’s a
good one,” that you were “never really certain.”
Every umbrella down on Portman Square opens
and closes to arraign our fair theory of something
I can’t picture anymore: a forgery for my fellow
travellers. I won’t wait to see. I still believe in you
and me. My fellow traveller.

John K. Samson is a singer and songwriter living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is also the managing editor of ARP Books (“our books lean left”).

Image: Andrew Bowden

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