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The Guest

l’ll never know who he was,
the man that just sat there

his face pressed into the head rest,
his beard a black avalanche.

He sat there in the way
piles of gravel do, delivered

to the beginning of a drive,
one ear folded like a landscape

Christmas card, one eye
a red foil bauble

dented from storage.
He sat in the glow of the lights

and we prodded him
with the fire poker, tickled

his nose with a strip
of gold tinsel. Nothing.

In the kitchen, cold meats, pickles.
Upstairs, choices to be made.

Paul Stephenson