Eveline (A Broken Ghazal) Things seem backward. A strange feeling on the back of the spine. Things seem backward, as if a finger slipped and put life on rewind. Things seem backward, a man wheezes in a bed, coughing up his age, his thoughts throw back to a first love, a dearly missed, sweet Eveline. Things seem backward, the man buys a house out in the countryside where his kids visit with their kids during holidays and special times. Things seem backward, the man retires and there’s cake and a pocket watch. His wife would smile if she were here, and so too would Eveline. Things seem backward, the man meets a younger fellow named Jim hired to do the same job. He is assured twice, this is not a downsize. Things seem backward, he stares at the grave and wishes it would rain, he wants a cinema goodbye, a sentimental wave at the years behind. Things seem backward, young faces stare up at him on the stage, hair fading grey with diploma in hand, denying his mind is in decline. Things seem backward, but now it's hard to remember, his coughs are heavy and sputtering, the racing mind slows, a finger slips the world pauses, things flow forward, backward, it does not matter, the man relives his life in bursts of light, his eyes flashing with life he sees his wife, her name he forgets now, but then it's Lily and he's sorry because she's not the one he wants to see. It's Eveline. Always Eveline, even after all this time she's on his mind, stuck spin ing, turning, yearning . . . no, wait, that's him, the man, he's yearning to know what would or could have been if they had stayed in touch, never together, but always close, and him with that same yearning that's driven him mad over the years, pushed him away from his life, yes his wife tried to steer him back, saw him through college, a goal he always wanted to obtain, but she died without rain, a sign he knew a sign that he had chosen wrong, even after all this time, Eveline. He sputters and coughs, but no one is there to hear, not in a hospital, not at night. Nurses? Somewhere. Not important. Scrubs without name tags, faces all too young and similar. If only he could go back, but where'd the light go? Where'd those moments of backward and forward time go? Things seem backward. The man lies in bed, coughs and sputters up his age, his thoughts throw back to a first love, a dearly missed, what was her name?
Henry B. Shepard III is currently studying at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers for a Master’s in English with a concentration in Creative Writing – Fiction. This is his first poetry publication. He comes from a swampy town called Destrehan, about 20 minutes out of New Orleans (and only 15 from the airport). You could follow Henry on Twitter (@VerbNounGuy). You could also have a nice day. Henry’s favorite romcoms are The Devil Wears Prada and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.