Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Kenneth Overend

Not As It Seemed

‘Not as it seemed’, you say in your letter. I do not know how it seemed. I do not know that it seemed.
You remember, I feel sure you remember, that day after grey day, through March and well into April, here we’d sit on one of these benches. I knew from the first day the colour of your eyes, but who’s to say when exchanging words became talking, talking while looking each other in the face, or looking out there together at gulls standing on water as they flaunted their flapping wings, and gulls floating on the water, or floating in the sky and smoothly veering.
Who can say when the original silence between us became quite a different silence, one in which I felt so relaxed, and you did, you told me you did.
But out there it was hardly ever silent, what with the cries of gulls, so diversely shrill, just as today. But one cry, it was not shrill. It came every now and again, and was far and near and was mournful.
‘Not as it seemed’, you say. But it is, it is so today. Gulls flaunt on the water, or flail it as though they are floundering, gulls haunt the sky, and I have heard the mournful call.
I’ve scattered all the seed I brought. Here on the path a pigeon has spread his tail – Behold my lovely tail – and turned and presented his swollen posture to a female who seems to be playing hard to get.
A rat disappeared down a hole in the bank then reappeared to drag in backwards half a slice of bread. The girl who threw it has gone. The pigeon is still attentive, still circling the female with his tail fanning down to the ground – he looks more like a bride than a bridegroom. I hear the throaty stutter before each deep ‘Ooo’. Behold my glorious crop.
You remember, I know you will remember . . . It was a day when the sun broke through, it suddenly shone on the lake like light on bottle-green glass . . . We sat looking out in silence.
Then ‘See’, you said, pointing to a gull standing in frozen tribute to itself on a railing bollard. ‘Just look at its beak’, I said. ‘It’s so, so, business-like’.
‘And look’, you said, ‘at its legs. Those aren’t a herring gull’s legs. A herring gull’s legs, they’re pinkish, but these gulls, they’ve yellow legs. I wonder . . .’ You shook your head.
The light on the bottle-green water shone as though from an inner source. ‘I wonder’, you said, ‘how long I’ve been looking without really seeing. They were herring gulls here all right at the beginning. It was their domain so to speak. And when did these take over?’
‘Perhaps today’, I said. You studied the back of your hand, then, as though you’d turned a page, you studied the palm. You slowly said, as though reading it out, ‘Flesh-coloured, a herring gull’s legs.’
Our eyes met, and looking out there where gulls were threshing water, freshening, renewing themselves, we were holding hands for the first time.
‘Not,’ you say, ‘as it seemed’. I suppose one could say the same, about corn no longer green.

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