We swiped each other’s side mirrors off and scored the bodywork.
Nobody’s fault, blind corner, hedgerows, mud and snow. We both slowed
slipped, slid, stopped, got out and had a laugh on the ridge in the centre of the road.
Jesus, this is middle earth, he said. You from round here?
No. I told him. Australia.
No kidding! Long way from home.
Middle America, man. Well, North Minnesota.
Oh I said. Pretty cold, eh? Dylan left a girl way up there.
Yeah? Dylan Thomas? I didn’t know...I’ve just driven up from Wales...
No no! Never mind.
Okay. Wanna swap mirrors for fun? Mine’s fucked. Hertz’ll love it!
Right. Might as well. Don’t know about Avis.
Hey Aussie, you go first. My side’s muddier than yours.
We shook hands and I drove three miles to a lay-by,
climbed a stile into a field and sang softly to a black-faced ewe
who just stared at her image in the American’s mirror.
If you’re ever up on that mountain over there,
remember me to a girl so fair...
See? I said. You’re beautiful. I propped it on a fence post
so she could keep admiring herself after I’d gone.
Baaa- bye! I called as I drove away but she didn’t look up.
Who said sheep were stupid?
Tomb of the Unknown Poet
These words, lined up
and stacked to resemble
a wobbly headstone, could
say anything at all and
they would still mark
the final resting place of
nobody in particular, and
someone who picked up my
book from a trestle table
at a fete, flipped through it
briefly and replaced it might
believe that its giveaway
price was a dead giveaway
a life lived, a life over.