A TALE OF ST JAMES INFIRMARY The guy with the guitar is playing on the opposite side of the street from where I sit at an outdoor table, sipping coffee on a warm late afternoon, a scruffy looking thirty-something, tousled hair and the beginnings of a beard, and, as he strums, he sings, but I only hear intermittently as the traffic mostly drowns him out, though there are snatches of Dylan, Leonard Cohen, maybe Cat Stevens, nothing from this century, and then he goes even further with a blues that I recognize, “St James Infirmary” and there’s a lull in the cars and buses so I get more of the song, a man going to claim his dead son in a hospital, and that image of the body wrapped in white linen, sticks in my mind, overwhelms the book I’m trying to read. It’s not the guy’s son. It’s not my son. Just his cracked voice, my sudden engagement, and a pang of illusive sorrow.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and International Poetry Review.