There is often the muffled laughter of women.
And lime green hunchbacks.
An old man with a beard and blistering nose skin
tells me we have spelt the name of a subsidiary Korean city incorrectly.
That’s fine I tell him, they have spelt it wrong.
They will have to live with themselves.
He seems satiated.
Another confides to me that he met his wife at the museum,
during the fifties. He winks, if it is not a tic.
He is speaking to me as though his wife equates to sex.
His eyeballs are close enough for me to notice that they are shrivelled,
and tasteless. Like oil and water.
During the fifties he placed his hand on her leg
and gently tugged at her skirt. I can see the appeal.
She giggled, he said. My word. He is unrecognisable.
He has felt a shiver of water pass through him
– angina, kidney trouble. Married for thirty years until she died.
There it is. They met way back, after the war.
Just when they were allowed out again.
He wants to tell me how he survived.
I start to walk away and he cannot give chase.
He near yells across the room that they took the treasures to the Welsh coast
during the war, hid them in caves all along the coast line.
That’s why they can taste of salt. And to the underground.
They hid the treasures in the tunnels.
The hags take their pictures stood next to the statue,
stood next to the penis of the statue.
They look down at it, squint their fingers together.
It seems they can be funny without laughing themselves.
They are conserving the humour for the recipient of the documentation back home.
They snort, quietly and shuffle on to start more rumours.
S. J. Fowler (b. 1983) has had poetry published in over 60 journals & magazines since the beginning of 2010. He is a member of the Writers Forum poetry group and the International Necronautical Society, and an employee of the British Museum. He edits the Maintenant interview series for 3:AM Magazine showcasing contemporary experimental European poets (http://www.maintenant.co.uk). Visit his website: http://www.sjfowlerpoetry.com.