The stench stayed heavy
in the stairwell in the house
where I live during November:
Mr Peterson at the first floor
was very dead.
I saw him last this summer when
he mow the lawn on his little patio.
How long must a body rot before
the smell from it find its way out
in the stairwell?
After two weeks of odious odour,
one of my neighbours got enough
of it and alarmed the landlord.
Mr Peterson’s body is now
removed and his door taped,
but the stench after him linger,
even though the landlord has
put a fan in the stairwell and
the windows there, are wide
open, day and night.
It is winter now – and soon it will be
Christmas Lights and togetherness.
Supposed to be.
But November this year has been
the greyest and darkest in 106 years:
four hours of sunshine instead for
the normal of about fifty-four hours.
Only the local library and its castle
alike hall with all its lamps gave me
light and consolation. When there I
went straight to a drop-in-computer
and forgot my own crashed computer
and my dark and gloomy rooms and
the stench in the stairs in the house
there I live and have my home –
forgot it all for another space, beyond
time and mortality.
And I still walk the same stairs
down and out and away and into
the amber light at the lo cal library.
A couple of hours later I reluctant
take the bus home.
What I know, I don’t want to know,
and what I would like to know: it
exists, yes – but somewhere else
and not in my staircase.
I want something else!
I wish – for example – I never have
had the experience that someone
lies dead for weeks and stinks in
the sane house as where I live.
It’s more than I can handle – and
for some reson I’ve got the fix idea
in my head I want to see Mona Lisa
at the Louvre before I die. Alone.
I saw Mr Peterson first time six years ago.
I had just moved in and was one day on my
way downstairs and out, when Mr Peterson
just entered at the front door with his cycle.
The sight of me scared him so much, so he
horrified backed out again and then he stood
stiff as a stick and with his face demonstrative
turned away from me – until I had passed him
and was on a distance from him. Then he
went into the house carrying his bike.
I learned soon to avoid to put Mr Peterson
in this painful predicaments the few times
I met him in the stairs: it was so obvious
meeting people was very scary for him.
But after a few years he seemed to
recognize me and stopped reacting
that strange – and I think he actually
once or twice said “hello”.
But he preferred to come and go through
his patio door at the back of the house.
Two new tenants moved in a couple
of years ago. It may have scared him.
I used to see him in the summers from
my balcony with a view over his patio.
He seemed not to notice that he was
Usually he took his bike for shopping,
but a few times I saw he drove up to
the house and his patio in a car.
One summer I heard him play Bruce
Springsteen at fairly high volume.
Another summer he had a young man
living with him: two bikes on the patio.
I met his guest once in the stairs and
in contrary to the older man this guy
stared straight at me and did it so
aggressively and mean I avoid
to meet him more times.
I assumed it was his son.
Last summer Mr Peterson cultivated
tomato plants in two pots. That was
something very new coming from him –
he used to settle with to mow the lawn
and nothing more.
Mr Peterson was a short man with a
roundhead, round facial features and a
large round potbelly. He was not that old –
just about my age: sixty plus.
It’s not a tragedy per se Mr Peterson lived
so lonely, it was what he wanted and what
he was able to do. But he – like most all of
us – denied to himself that his life had an
end: but the body would remain – and
must be taken care of by others.
Our minds can be in outer space, and
maybe our souls are eternal – but we
all have our bodies stationed on this
troubled earth – and our bodies
smells. So far, no one is alone.
But we are all lonely – in some aspect.
And we are all longing for something.
And then we die. What we have –
it is in common for everyone.