Portrait: man in a raincoat /a poem

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Man in a raincoat

plain? dull? His face obscured, head bent. Back sloped into the wind & rain.

He walks – strides ahead. Or attempts to, move forward. Is he trying to – prove, something?

Would I choose a life ordinary, out of habit? His coat is like the raincoat my father wore. Every day. As he walked, down the lane – away from us. to that safe place.

Years later – it was his dream. His promise to that child of me – a solid start! A beginning.

Suits and polished shoes, a case in hand. One day – four walls of my own to contain, my family. And then I would pay our bills.

Is that all? All that waits, in the stretched years. That I can reach as far as I can dream – is that the MOST – I can achieve?

What of travel! And art! Romance that hurts and fails, leaves me pale & sick, oh troubled heart! Soul filling pain that I will then draw upon.

I paint. I paint! He knows… a child’s hobby, dismissed.

Covered and packed away, in the attic, in boxes. I feel them above, pressing down.

And yet, our eyes meet – his tired and considered; mine wild with youth & pride. I feel passion slink away like an embarrassed friend, clambering over the wall – it’s too late.

He hands me the card. He nods. Agreed. It seems. I feel my life in my hand, between my fingertips, gilt edged, firm, straight.

And I see the man in the painting, from the hall – head down into the rain, he must walk.

In his damp grey morning raincoat

and that man is me.

by Elizabeth Haley-Wood ~

a poem about forced responsibility perhaps, against personal desire. Do we all fall into that trap? Maybe so. But there’s always an escape hatch – look!

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