The Happy Old Man Goes to the Market


He wasn’t past the peaches, but he was on his way. The Happy Old Man sparked
and shouted. His skirts reminded his grandson of whirling dervishes.
The apples were next. The new year was on its way and the sun wasn’t yet allowed
any comment. Bottlerockets smuggled home in a violin case, something generous and
cool in the cellar and waiting.
The fruitseller’s nervous organ monkey was shelling peanuts in Papa’s hat, biting
fingers, eating flies and buttons. “Little Troublemaker” yelled the merchants, but were
they speaking of the monkey or the man who fed it?
Disturbances the old way, no plot necessary.
And the pears! The pears desperate with juice. It frightened the ripened daughters.
The sons couldn’t contain themselves.
The Happy Old Man grew bright with tiny smiles of light. The Happy Old Man
sputtered into the sky and danced on the evening breeze.
Is this where today happens?
Tonight is different. The fruit keeps waking up and whispering.
The Happy Old Man shouted and made sparks all night again. Carried the laundry
around the room like a cornucopia. Spilled eggplant soup on the lantern.
The next day at the market, the Happy Old Man is back again. Young boys are
buying the little kielbasa for lunch. The butcher snickers. “Now you can spank the baby
Polite as abandoned clothing, the Happy Old Man pays attention while bouquets of
the homeless introduce themselves as flowers until one of them with a uric taint on him,
like a last ditch effort to mark the only territory he has left, tries to get him to feel his
head, claiming it’s made of tinfoil and the suppurating sores on his feet are leaking
something more than his life. “In war only the bullets escape,” he mumbles.
An elegant young man in a black tophat wipes the tears from his raven mustaches
and on up to his cheeks, his eyes, with a handkerchief as white as snow. He removes his
clothing, folding it carefully, and enters the river with his hat still on. His long shiny hair
flows out behind him as his body lowers into the water. He dogpaddles slowly beneath
the cobblestone bridge. Soon he is joined by a dragonfly, riding his tophat, its iridescent
wings shimmering against the dark background.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.