The curious glasses

The glasses were there on the bench in the park where he regularly sat to eat his lunch and contemplate the world passing him by. He had sat as he normally did without noticing their presence alongside but his hand brushed their frames as he placed his sandwiches beside him in readiness for unwrapping and savouring their flavour.

His choice today had been smoked salmon and cream cheese but his recognition of the unexpected and unfamiliar drew his attention away from his food and toward these glasses abandoned on his lunch bench. They were nothing special to look at, a pair of black steel-rimmed beatle glasses, but they raised questions in his mind. Who was it that had left them? How had they been left – overlooked or discarded? Was someone even now searching for them or negotiating existence with impaired vision for the loss of them?

His curiosity awakened, his hand reached out to grasp them and having grasped to raise them to his face and eyes. What he saw arrested his attention.

His gaze focused initially on a sparrow pecking at crumbs on the tarmac a yard or more from him.

In the blink of his eyelid he saw God’s eyes focused on the sparrow, not one sparrow falling without his notice, sparrows pulling Aphrodite’s chariot, Warbeak and his warrior sparrows, psychopomps carrying spirits from the land of the dead to that of the living, Captain Jack Sparrow of the Black Pearl, London’s house sparrows, the playful intimacy of Lesbia’s pet sparrow pecking her fingers and the elegies of Catallus and Skelton, The Sparrow in Edgware, and the wet-footed sparrow hopping along the veranda.

He saw the sparrow’s feathers and immediately saw the wax of Icarus’ feathered wings melting in the heat of the sun, the US eagle feather law, the feathers of angelic wings …

He tore the glasses from his eyes, placing them on the bench, and then rubbing his eyes as if to establish whether he was awake or dreaming. He could not quite believe what he had just seen. Had these glasses enabled him to see the significance of the sparrow or had he suddenly had a mystic revelation of the inter-connectedness of existence?

He wasn’t sure but knew that his next decision would either answer those questions once and for all or leave him forever questioning the reality of that sudden wonder-filled moment. His hand hesitated over the glasses. Put them on again and would he remove them ever again as he explored the depths of multiple signification? Leave them lying where he found them and would he forever regret his rejection of insight and vision?

His hand grasped the frames and trembling hooked them over his ears and settled them on his nose. His eyes remained closed. Could he open them once more? What would he see when he did so? Curiosity triumphed and his eyes lighted on the grass that butted up again the tarmac and spread before him as a vast expanse of solid green composed of billions on billions of individual blades.

Instantly he saw the rush and sedge families, groundspeople preparing the Wembley pitch for Cup Final day, the unstoppable progress of Bermuda Grass, horses, cows, sheep and goats grazing, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, suburban lawns and multiple lawn mowers, the covers on Centre Court at Wimbledon and Cliff Richard leading communal singing, a smoking joint, the rough, the fairway and the putting green, all flesh is grass and man’s days are as grass …

Suddenly, a butterfly flew across his field of vision interrupting his train of signification. That moment, he saw the personification of a soul, a flutterby, a butterfly nut, the stomach’s butterflies, a bow tie, a hieroglyphic butterfly, butterfly lovers, a butterfly fairy. He followed the chain reaction of the flutter of the butterfly’s wings until it caused …

He was found slumped over on the bench, the glasses remained in place and rigor mortis had left a curious look of wonder inscribed on his now-motionless face. The glasses remained in place together with the look of wonder as the casket lid was secured, prayers were spoken, memories shared, earth scattered and shoveled over the coffin, man and glasses. Each one lowered into the grave, into death.



Jonathan Evens





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