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Visiting the Zen Man Al

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Pavle Radonic

You would have said the tree was on fire, because of the sound of the fluttering leaves, Al said, looking up into the branches in the small garden. The wind was light and the sun behind the cloud. Perhaps it was the medication giving the impression; some of the hallucination and dreaming of late Al himself put down to either the cancer in his blood, or else the medication. Earlier in the single room his bed had seemed unusually narrow. In his old black leather jacket, which Al now said was made in Pakistan and that he had found on a bench in the hospital—one of three where he had been warded the last number of weeks—he looked more robust and healthy. With the walking frame he was certainly more sure on his feet. (One of Al’s stronger poems had once been described by a good judge as “sure-footed”.)

Cousin Barry had been visiting daily, according to Al, though similar had been heard from other patients in like circumstances, which ultimately proved untrue. It might be different with Barry, the Ellis boys having been especially close from childhood. After the tests a few weeks ago a doctor had told Al he had nine months to live, following which the man went off somewhere, as he reported it. Fuck me dead, was all Al added on the matter, before conversation turned elsewhere.

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