Ask the liars and the tempted

One of mine, for a change…

Watch the discards of love on Sunday afternoons,
walking from house to car, on to riverbeds
or mountains, or up mountains
from where the silhouettes of others seem so much less
distinct than our own. Watch, if they linger,
how the twilight begins to reveal the stars, and how
they stare at those same stars that offered so much

and that now, after years of review,
declare absence rather than our promise,
mocking dreams and designs conjured
from the late-night fog of one last whiskey
in a stranger’s dining room, then

prised into a bulging secret life, set on course
for any version of destiny. You asked about my dreams,
but all I could remember then was details of life,
my database stretched to capacity, tail-trapped
mouse stuck on scroll, and me looking for breaks.

For a time, I waited for memories to come, and then
waited for any to seem plausible. Such confusions
have left me now – whole pages of sticky back labels
declare who I am, and a crushed envelope,
wrapped in squiggled detail and an apology,
tells me that it was always somebody else, never
me, that was meant to be watching at all.

By Jacques Rousseau

Jacques Rousseau teaches critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is the founder and director of the Free Society Institute, a non-profit organisation promoting secular humanism and scientific reasoning.