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Forty-something man sitting on the ground: cross-legged; a little lop-sided. Hair receding, cut short (not shorn) to minimise. Shorts, t-shirt, hooded top; sandals scuffed – they’ve schlepped a few pavements, not just the beach. Wrists resting on bended knees, fingers interlocking.

The position his hands are in seems one stop short of prayer, but this man has already reached a moment of quiet contemplation; perhaps hundreds then thousands of such moments throughout the warm moistening of a Mediterranean night.

I have stopped short of saying what he’s contemplating. Because I don’t rightly know. On the one hand he is not directly contemplating the thing under the pink beach towel within touching distance of where he is sitting, because the pink beach towel is covering that thing so that no one – least of all this man – has to contemplate it simply as a thing, no longer a human being. On the other hand, the man is only there because the thing is; the thing that is, that used to be human.

Maybe this is how it works: sitting but not quite touching the thing that is, this is the closest he can get to the being that was; and if he sits there long enough, he may even be able to reconcile himself to the fact that ‘is’ and ‘was’ are irreconcilable.

Or perhaps it’s nothing of the sort, and he’s only there, looking with infinite tenderness upon the hidden corpse of a lost loved one, because he can’t contemplate being anywhere else.


Image by Hermann from Pixabay