'About a Buoy' by John F King
Looking back I’m glad I was kind to him at the time.
At least I think I was, in the now, not later, not retrospectively.
Standing at the school gates in his Navy uniform, Percy seemed to have found his legs.
Back then you could leave school at 15, sort of age when you know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life.
At school Percy was all at sea.
On his last day, cast off, he simply sailed away.
It has to be said (does it?) he wasn’t the brightest boy.
Some of our more direct brethren used the words Percy and plank in the same sentence.
He wasn’t aloof, self-contained, a self –appointed loner;
he was lonely – there is a difference – isolated, lost.
I never knew why, who was responsible, if the responsibility was his or others and to what ratio.
Do people choose to be alone? Really?
I can see his last day now,
that defeated walk of his, off course.
There were not many waves for Percy.
Three years elapsed before any messages from him were picked up
but to be direct not that many were on his wavelength.
It was my last day by that time too.
There was a cluster round the gates:
Percy came into view. He seemed taller but it was the way he stood, to attention, making the most of what there was.
He passed his white hat round, polaroids emerged
and to cap it all, flares were in that year.