Thursday, October 26, 2017

Someone Whispered

It was after late night shop window blinds were winched down
After lively conversations on balconies were muted
After echoes of boots on wet pavements dissipated
After curtains shifted in the cool breeze of an open window
Someone whispered

Four courtyard walls, a dozen flats and a chimney of space
A dark square of sky, a scattering of stars, a light drift of cloud
The scent of a dozen meals cooked and the fragrance of wine
The last bars of a song, water from a shower, the low rumble of a washing machine
Someone whispered

We met in daylight, the tenants, glancing and guessing, awkward dances in hallways
We watched each other, reluctant to speak or ask, or look the other in the eye
The names we never knew, because we never asked, never tipped on our tongues
Strangers sharing bricks, cement, a wrought iron gateway and a dozen post-boxes
Someone whispered

Night after night after night
Someone whispered
English, not Spanish
A woman, not a man
At night time, never in the day
Someone whispered

“She’s praying,” said the woman from the top floor as she folded her washing
“It’s her brother’s flat,” announced the man who lived opposite, cigarette between fingers
“He’s in hospital with cancer,” added the young man wheeling his bike into the porch
“Dying,” disclosed the old woman from the ground floor, crossing herself swiftly
Someone prayed

We listened, chairs pulled up to windows, eavesdropping on a conversation
She prayed a storm of words, rebuking tumours the size of an egg, declaring healing
Asking for anointed conversations over cups of coffee on the hospital veranda
Seeking peace, finding anger, raging at God who kept His distance, then saying “sorry”
She prayed

We thought if we were God we would answer her prayer, perhaps
We thought the brother would get the all clear, perhaps
We thought we should say something if we saw her, perhaps
We wished someone would pray for us the way she prayed for him
So we prayed

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