I was riding on the city bus, third year since Godfrey’s passing…the compiling of his story filled some of the space he left, not all. Those who wrote with poetry, or tales of meeting up with him, reminded me of his boundless joy in Serendipitous discovery.
The bus was not too crowded, yet it smelled of socks and seemed to hit each pothole as it crawled , scraped the sidewalk. Two robed women, wearing head covering got on, sitting speaking quietly together. People around them began to sneer and talk, loud words of anger, ignorance and fear.”Send em back where they came, we only speak English round here”.
Atmosphere rancid, waiting at a long red light, I joined the voices raised in defense of the girls, fearing a fight. A young man sat alone across the bus aisle- clean yet patched trousers, shirt baggy and faded, knapsack of apples and books by his side. There was something familiar in his shy, sideways smile, he began picking out notes on a scratched, blue guitar, he was good, very good, the harsh tension round us calmed, he played “Eres Alta” softly as the bus moved along.
I sat, gob-smacked, for this had been Godfrey’s favorite song. People piled on, the lad quickly exited before I could to, and was gone.
Our old apartment building home-( my Garnet called it “Tara”) The doorbell is located down four flights of stairs, yet rings in every flat. My husbands idea was to hang something out the front window indicating that we were home, so we do, Godfrey’s old, spare wooly hat.
Landlady, Mrs Feerce has a paramour who sings neath her window night and day, Dagmar the hoarder peeped from his doorway, outside 204 reeked of cat, there was often religious pamphlets strewn about, the day after my encounter on the bus, all was normal in “Tara” as once again, I headed out.
Stepping past some rubbish, through the fug of Beefaroni, at the door he stood, contemplating that drat bell, the boy from the bus who played his guitar so well. Bowlegged, I stood, all I thought of to say was, “Who may you be? “Who taught you that old song you played to quell the troubles on that nasty bus yesterday”?
Laughed then, nearly till I cried, for here was The Vagabond Hawken, who’s dream was of a life lived outside.
Guitar, books, apples, he gathered it all, he was amused by Mrs Feerce’s ineptly spelled signs in the hall. Sneck of lock from our hoarder neighbor’s door, we could hear a pile of debris fall in there, I told Hawken, “welcome, do sit in my old turquoise chair”. Over coffee, very strong, he told me his story, of meeting up with Godfrey, who indeed had taught him the old song.
“I knew him briefly, no more than a day, but gave me this address should I journey this way, said to seek the luggage shop, main street west of downtown, look for the old wooly hat hanging down”
“Godfrey learned “Eres Alta”, he told me, long ago, from a friend, Larry, “The Free Advice Wino”. “It soothes all situations tense, a good diversion, advised Larry, “Play the gentle Weaver’s version”.
Since Godfrey fixed the tap in our loo the hot ran cold, and the cold water for the bath was hot, as was our toilet. Our tub claw footed, dented and old, was luxury to me, above it hung Godfrey’s old painting of Sir Francis Drake at sea.
Garnet had his study as a private lair, I had the corner window, looking over the harbor, and my turquoise chair….Hawken made himself at home, ” I said, my stepmother found the chair by the road, in a ditch on the prairie, he said, “I have learned I love to write, but not yet poetry, something of this chair reminds me to, of home, the big skies and the things I have seen, indeed this chair is inspiring”.
Hawken and Garnet shared books, and love of horses, talked late into the night of whirled peas, and some deep philosophy. He and I became good friends,he was a seeker as Godfrey had been, we walked arm in arm about the city,and I showed him my worry stone,our favorite bakery, he sought passage to Australia, with restless intensity.
Before Hawken sailed, early the next year, I made him call his parents, and play “Eres Alta” once more for me….”It was a cold spring morning when moon cradled moon, we bid farewell to Hawken, who promised to write soon. Walked home together, back to “Tara”, passed under the ladder, upon which Mrs Feerce’s paramour climbed to croon, retreated to my chair, Garnet to the quiet of his stamps across the oddly empty living room.
He writes, as he said he would, works at a Bat Sanctuary, and up the Tully River he trains as a Rafting Guide. Writes with humor of the beets in Aussie food. Hawken writes bush ballads, and the joy he has found in poetry, “Says it is the free life outside, and help from that old turquoise chair that continues to delight and inspire me”.
“The joy of Serendipitous Discovery”..