Lean with conventionally handsome chiseled features, he is an older man. His face is lined from the sun or, possibly from the smiles from being loved once. His feet are swollen from age and wine. When he walks, the pain makes him limp. He is more agile on his bike which he has left somewhere today. He is an iconic character of this town. I look for him every visit. There is a degree of comfort when I see him safe and well.
He has a roving eye that twinkles like a blue star in a clear gaze. He hasn’t broken any hearts lately, because he is true to none, or so his eyes say. He does not know this, but I hear pieces of his broken heart rattle, deep in his chest, whenever he smiles into the distance. He has the courage to live by his choices. His home, a mobile castle on wheels. His precious art is the sunrise and sunset. His music, the birdsong. His library, yesterday’s newspapers, and the ones from the weeks before. His entertainment includes me, seated at his feet, watching seagulls through the lens. We have become accustomed to a comfortable silence in this monthly routine. He watches me walk to work and when I catch his gaze, he looks away from the contact, as if scorched.
At midday, I head south. I see him long before he sees me as I set off to walk into town to buy lunch. By then, he has rolled his home from the foreshore to under the sprawling Moreton Bay fig tree. At this hour, he is at his flamboyant best, with huge grey feathers speared through his hat. An imperceptible nod of acknowledgement communicates, he’s dressed for the day too.
Who is he? I may never know. I’m told his world does not include family. His homeless, itinerant lifestyle intrigues me. Why? Perhaps, even though worlds apart, he is no different than me. Our narrative is the same story.
a dawn bird