Worn out and parched, I cross the vast, spotless expanse of desert,
My vision blurring and my mind a swirling whirlpool of undulating colours
As the distant sound of water dripping persistently into the depths of a pool
Steadily drills a hole through the crumbling walls of my sanity.
‘Just a bit further,’ I rasp to myself as I drag one foot after another;
I am dangerously close to believing that my sufferings will not end,
And I will be forever doomed to feel pain with every heavy tread,
Walking through an endless desert in the vain hope of reaching the end.
‘Ah! A hawk!’ Hovering high above in the distance, I welcome that lonely sign of life
And attempt to lumber forward at a quicker pace, my feet catching and stumbling
In the sand that solemnly offers support, only to collapse as you gratefully step on it.
Just like the politicians I used to see on TV when election time drew near.
My limbs trembling, I fall to my hands and knees and continue on my way, crawling,
One eye always on the hawk that is a small, black shape against the searing, white sky.
Just when I think that I have no strength left, the sight of it beckons me
With thoughts of life and water and laughter; the three things a man needs most.
And when the hawk sharply tilts its head and fixes me with a beady, yellow eye,
I cannot help but freeze where I am, sinking slowly into the burning sand,
My thirst setting my quivering body on fire and plunging my heart into ice.
Do I really have a chance? I silently ask the bird that’s now like a spectre in the sky.
It swoops slightly closer, and eyes me suspiciously as it asks, ‘What are you doing, Dad?’
And I blink and stare as my vision slowly clears and I see my nine-year-old daughter,
Standing on the lower half of the stairs, clearly having been on her way down
Before she saw her balding father in underpants crawling across the carpeted hallway.
Suddenly, the urges of civility thrust themselves upon me, and I straighten up, dignified,
Caring for my unkempt attire about as much as the emperor who acquired new clothes.
And feeling that I must address and educate this poor, disadvantaged subject of mine,
I elucidate in my most well-spoken voice, ‘I am on my way to the kitchen for a drink.’
‘Already?’ my daughter asks, pursing her lips. ‘It’s only half ten in the morning.’
Mortified at her insolence and at being the object of her disdain, I stare wildly at her,
Determined to establish that one such as she could never understand the providence
To which we writers answer to and must obey in order to practice and replenish our art.
‘Time is irrelevant to the artist,’ I haughtily respond. ‘Art cannot be constrained by time!’
‘But alcohol can,’ the shrewish daughter points out, all Iago to my Othello.
She is clearly cramping my style as I make the perilous journey to the kitchen.
I figure it is best to remove such a component that undermines the validity of my quest.
‘You are too young to understand,’ I tell her with grand benevolence as I sweep away,
Sauntering leisurely towards the sound of water dripping from the kitchen tap.
From behind me, I hear a thin sigh and a mutter that sounds a bit dissentious;
No doubt the clueless minion has mistaken my genius for middle-aged derangement.
But heed her, I do not, as I reach my destination and approach the locked cabinet
Wherein lies a sordid yet magnificent collection of bottles of all shapes and sizes
Holding precious amber drops of liquid inspiration that will fire up the cylinders
Of my imagination and fuel the dwindling flame that is my worn-out muse.
I pour out a glass; my throat burns in anticipation as the molten nectar glints in the light,
And already drunk from smelling the searing, stinging aroma of my choice of Ambrosia,
I solemnly raise the glass in a silent toast before tipping back its entire contents.
To the perilous journey that is life, ennui and hallway! And for surviving it once again!