Lost soul


absent without leave
without surprise or expectation of my soul’s presence
morning’s routine carried out like an automaton
with hazy breaks in the pattern

when I open my curtain
Stan the unwanted man is reversing his mobility scooter
out of its night-time home
and I watch, immobile, as he inches slowly towards
a world that has chosen to label him loathesome.
I despise his habits with female addicts
but I pity him just the same
I dispise his lies, his historic fictions,
his fake link with gypsies, his empire of thin air
but I pity the twist in his ragged joggers, the whiff of neglect
and the rumble of failure
I pity the sag of the seat of his scooter
the damage a nasty neighbour has managed
but even my pity is out of reach
dripping from my skin like a falling tear
drying like dew in the atmosphere

I watch Stan the unhappy man negotiate the pavement, and he’s away
I shake my head as if by doing so I will awaken my soul

turning, I transfer my attention to my latest acquisition
a shiny white Smart Meter, smart because it can tell me
everything I may want to know about my electricity consumption
(a conspiracy theorist told me that they can tell when I’m boiling my kettle
I said that’s OK, I had no plans to keep it a secret
but I could have explained that they are only interested
in selling me electricity
and if I had a nuclear reactor they would probably consider it a bonus
because a nuclear reactor uses even more energy
than an electric kettle
so they‘d be grateful for my business)
I press a button which tells me that at the current rate
I’m spending less that a penny an hour on my energy
I switch on a few sockets and my usage goes up to over a penny.
I turn them off again, scrutinise the screen
press the button several times to check on CO2 emissions and wattage,
but lose interest when I search within me
and find that the Smart Meter hasn’t helped me to locate my soul

the morning passes in this manner
with moments of concentration, searching for my soul,
in the biscuit tin, between my toes,
trying to think of all the places a soul may go
then slipping through the gaps in my mind
in the way you do when your soul has gone

at lunch time I have a visit from my Grandson
and we discuss metaphysics
the intricacies of self harm, music, and the family
making me forget all about my search

when he leaves I write a poem
I’m pleased when I finally notice
my soul is back in place and in one wholesome piece
all is well, as it always was, and always will be




©Jane Paterson Basil


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