Four Prose Poems
On our last day's camping holiday in Wales, we went to visit a family for the afternoon before driving back. While we were having tea, I could hear it raining heavily outside. I pulled back the net curtain. Water was already halfway up the wheels of our car. Another car was driving slowly along the street of terraced white houses. It had to stop where the water grew deeper, but the driver was able to reverse and turn into another street going uphill. Should we leave now and try the same route or just stay put? Although I said nothing, I felt annoyed that we had not left earlier while there was still time, though I couldn't remember whether it was my idea or my wife's to visit this family, distant relatives of mine I hardly knew.
I won a robot kitten at a fair and took it home. The kitten had been programmed to be affectionate. It was astonishingly realistic and I wondered how my wife, daughter and our own cat would react. How long would it take before they realised it was only a toy? When it begged to follow our cat outside, we were afraid it would fall into the wrong hands and be abused. But could it suffer? Did it know it was only a machine?
In spite of his age, the old ex-con had a boyish enthusiasm about climbing trees. It had been like that all his life, he said. The worst thing about being in prison was the lack of trees. A small crowd gathered at the side of the street to watch him climb one now. He was only halfway up when a police officer arrived and told us to move on. When I hesitated, he shoved me so hard I fell and hit my elbow. With a grin the ex-con kept climbing.
I was on my hotel room balcony watching the holiday makers by the swimming pool, in particular a woman with whom I'd exchanged smiles the evening before. She was playing in the water with her child, who was shrieking with delight. I was about to go back to my book when she shielded her eyes from the sun and waved up to me. I returned the wave. A little later there was a knock at the door. When she kissed me in the open doorway, I was so surprised I stepped back. 'What's the matter? Don't you like me?' she wanted to know. 'It's not that. In fact, you're perfect,' I said, wondering what she'd done with the child.
Ian Seed is a regular contributor to The Cafe Irreal. His books of small fictions and prose poems include New York Hotel (2018), Identity Papers (2016) and Makers of Empty Dreams (2014), all from Shearsman. His long short stories include Italian Lessons (LikeThisPress, 2017) and Amore Mio (Flax, 2011). Work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including The Best Small Fictions 2017 (Braddock Avenue Books) and The Forward Book of Poetry 2017 (Faber & Faber). He lectures at the University of Chester in the UK.
Our commentary on the first two volumes of his trilogy -- Identity Papers and Makers of Empty Dreams -- was the final entry in Our Year of Reading at the Irreal Cafe.