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 communion.
But November this year has been
the greyest and darkest in106 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
then light and consolation. Then there
I went straight to a drop-in-computer
and forgot about my own crashed
computer and my dark and gloomy
rooms and the stench in the stairs
in the house there I live –
for another space, beyond time
And I still walk the same stairs
down and out and away and into
the amber light at the local library.
A couple of hours later I reluctant
take the bus home.
That I know, I don’t want to know,
and what I would like to know –
it do exists, yes – but elsewhere:
certainly not in my staircase.
I want something else!
I wish – for example – I never would
have had to experience that someone
dies and lay for weeks and stinks
in the house where I live.
And I’ve got this idea that 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 in carrying on his bike.
I soon learned 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 frightening for him.
But after a few years he seemed to
recognize me and stopped reacting
so strange, and I think he actually
once 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 maybe scared him.
I used to see him in the summers from
my balcony with a view over his patio.
He seemed not 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
contrary to the older man this guy
stared straight at me and 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 settles 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 –
about my age :sixty plus.
It’s not a tragedy Mr Peterson lived so
lonely, that was what he wanted and what
he was able to. But he – like most all –
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’re all lonely – in some aspect.
And we are all longing for something.
And then finally we die. Alone.
What we have, we have in common.