Issue 10

Winter 2014


Googling an Old Flame

Martha doesn't know how to work this thing   
that Byron gave her after Harold died,   
but her granddaughter Aimee does (that's Emily
and Simon's daughter, Aimee with two e's)
so she helps her. A quick tutorial,
a list of words like browser, firewall, web,
a little slot to put the letters in.

William. William Johnson. William B.
A boy she knew at university.
Just curious about his whereabouts,
what happened to him, what his life became.

But what she's really after is a picture.
She needs it for comparison, to weigh
the mortal with the man who left one day,
forgetting to mention that he'd never return,
and didn't leave a number, didn't write.
Just threw this cold, annihilating light
on everything, then slowly disappeared.

The numbers come back astronomical.
A million Billy Johnsons in the world,
she thinks. Of course. And not the half of it.

And so she looks. Gets warmer, wanders off.
At times, she's almost certain of his presence,
but it won't surprise her if he isn't there.
She's often wondered if he ever was.
An apparition. A black magician. Thin air.


Jim Burrows