Reproduced by permission of the artist, Max Ferguson.
Don’t look away. If you turn your back on me. As you’ve done so many times before tonight. If you turn away and busy yourself with bottles and glasses. I’ll still be in the reflection. Your reflection. Go ahead. Rearrange the Christmas tinsel. But I’ll still be here. When you turn around. Waiting. Even if you close your eyes. You’ll never close me out. Closing time. Opening time. It’ll all be the same to me. So, turn this way. Look at me.
You cannot deny me.
I will not let it happen.
I will not go away.
Don’t close me out
You say you’ve given me all you can. All you have to give. That you’ve your own life. A life away from me. You say your love lies elsewhere. That you never really came to love me. There was never the time for that to happen. For you to get to know me. You say the time has passed.
Well diddly dee, isn’t that just a surprise.
Let me tell you how it’s been for me. How it is for me. Let me remind you of all you’ve given me. Of all you have to give. To me. Birthday cards that stopped when I was ten (I’ve kept them all). Then the phone calls (three times, out of the blue). And a sighting (once) through the school gates when I was in fourth grade (or so I was told). I try to bring it back to mind. I squeeze my eyes closed to make my brain sift for that elusive image. And sometimes it does. Or I do. And there you’ll be. Frozen in time. Silhouetted against an Arizona skyline. Waiting for me to come out of school. Waiting, so ordinarily. But even if the memory was true. My image. You never waited. You were gone before you arrived. Mom’s shown me all the photos. Of she and you before. But not one of me and you. Not one to hang on to. Never in your arms. Mom says not to blame you. That you and she were kids. But she stayed? Why couldn’t you? You, who even now, turn away from me.
Before closing time I got to talking with Gerry, a lovely old man who’s been coming to the Vanguard forever. Gerry said that back in the day they used to have “Speak Outs” on Monday nights. One dollar to get in. One dollar drinks. There’d be all kinds of topics. People’d say all manners of things. Controversy was the theme, said my new old friend. He’s an unusual man, Gerry. He said he likes the sound of the word. “Controversy”. He said it sounds like it does. Well it’s Monday today and maybe I’ll sound like I do. Perhaps this is me speaking out. To you. Mainly in silence. No need for any more words.
Just turn around.
Look me in the eye.
Maybe we can speak out together. Now. Turning our backs on closing time.