Old Man

He was an old man. An old man with a face like the moon. A face with texture and pallor of Edam cheese. He kissed me at the end. Delivering his broadcast had brought him near to tears. They came when he spoke to me afterwards. Jesus, he said, will come to your door as a beggar. He talked of Boris Johnson, of Donald Trump and how he was in hoc to Putin. I’ve been reading up about him, he said. Words spilled out, along with his tears. He’d been speaking about a poet, a pacifist, I presume from the First World War called Waldo. These Welsh mystics are strangers to me, I am behind glass from them. But he also talked of Simone Weil. I’ve heard of her. A French philosopher and visionary. She died, he told me, from starvation. She would only eat what her fellow Frenchmen could eat. She deprived herself out of solidarity. Read her, he begged. Read her book about family, he begged. Something to do with roots. He asked me my name twice, then took my hand and kissed my cheek. He quoted someone else. Was it James, Jesus’s brother? I didn’t know he had a brother. Preach, by all means, this man said, and use words if you must. It’s all about actions, the man with the moon face told me. It’s all about what we do. I was moved by him. Was that him? he asked when I got into the car. The old man with the John Lennon cap?

We talked. It needed to be said. It helped. It lanced the boil. I love him. I love him as he is. And I will do what I can to put everything in place for him. Meanwhile we just have to wait.

Heavy, complex dreams about a woman with whom I was sharing a bathroom. And yet it wasn’t a bathroom proper. The bath was an upholstered kind of day bed. The room was unfamiliar and old-fashioned and I had to work around her things. But I was sanguine about it, accepting. I watched her from a distance. Family arrived to see her and she got in a fluster not being prepared and hurried to put a scarf around her big weight of curly hair.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.