When the ripples meet, forces collide
and something does happen. Tears fall, fires
ignite, maybe even a bit of mayhem. Hey,
look, have you ever seen such a beautiful day?
The bloated trees have drunk up all of spring
and the sky is smiling like a new-born babe
on a baby-blue blanket. But where is George
Floyd? They choked the life out of him in broad
daylight, in case you hadn’t heard. Once when
I was a boy, I killed a butterfly just for the heck
of it. Not like Ali who toyed with Patterson
through twelve rounds simply because
he called him Clay, but a real one, I mean.
Is that cruel or what? And now I sit here
on foreign soil watching the fiery news back
home. Strangely, there’s a lot of recrimination
between China and the U.S. (between everyone,
really), each one telling the other how they ought
to protest: well, no, how they ought to handle
protests. It’s not the same. Take me and my
girlfriend, for instance. I assume she’s decided
to call it quits. I’m not a hundred percent sure,
but she hasn’t said a word since I texted her
that awful message. You don’t want to know
what it said. My take is, we’re pretty much
doomed. But that’s what we get for living apart
and not trusting the other. The sex was good.
But the truth of the matter is we speak different
languages, me being an American expat, and she
half German half Kazakh. Anyway, she’s highly
cautious since her divorce (from an Italian
dude who went astray), so she doesn’t let anyone
come too close. I would say – and it occurs to me
now in an almost sudden way – that she could
be just about any female lead from any
of the Hitchcock films. A bit cold and remote.
Never used my Christian name. Not once.
But actually I’m digressing. The point is,
I played it all wrong and now I wake up
and see the media is filled with the stuff of war.
Did I mention what a gorgeous day it is?
You look at the brilliant birch leaves twirling
in the breeze and you wonder, isn’t the world
fed up with the brawn and tone of strongmen?
I’ve been working out at home and running
in the woods since this Corona business,
and it’s my feeling they ought to keep all those
bloody health gyms closed so that we can
all meet outside and play boccie ball or whatever,
without those bloody hip-hop beats. Did I
just say something wrong? Can I help it if
I like Beethoven and jazz? It’s funny, you say
something stupid and then you apologize
and then she says, well that shows what you
really think of me, so what’s the point? My
girlfriend can be infuriating. Like attracts like,
I guess. Turn on the TV and, apart from all
this burning violence, take any one of those
crime series – say ‘Endeavour’, with that
opera-loving inspector Morse – well, every
ravishing woman he meets reminds me of her
and I can’t help but wince. Maybe this is how
karma works. (Remember that butterfly.)
But please knock some sense into me: didn’t I
say it was a ravishing day and George Floyd
had been rubbed out mercilessly? I write this
a week ago and you say, who the hell is George
Floyd? But now the whole world knows.
The point is, he won’t ever come back.
These birch leaves come back every year, as if
they can’t get enough of stained humanity.
But George Floyd, who probably loved his
humanity more, will never get the chance
to forgive his tormentors. Or, for that matter, have
a falling-out with his girlfriend. Or just take in
the splendours of a balmy late-spring day. No,
Not ever. And ain’t that the shitty news.
Francis Fernandes grew up and studied in North America. He is half German, half Indian. Currently he lives in Germany, where he teaches English and writes. He has published short stories and poems in various journals.