He stands at the doorstep, wood-shy, wood-still and smelling of wood. Damp winter late-afternoon in the background. His mouth, his lips, his tongue mute and chattery cold. Behind me, wood burning with coal in the fire to warm, warmth to dry the cold and damp of the day. As though my home were the sun and he the dark side of the moon and I the earth between the two.
My hands dusty with old paper and my brain dusty with old paper and my lungs dusty with old paper and my eyes heavy with grief. In the house, lots of letters. Endless human correspondence like nothing happens unless it is written down. I have been snapping old staples from old letters, the iron breaking into tiny pieces which find their way under the nails, under the skin, into the throat and lungs, into life and into death. Just like the letterwriters no longer stapled together.
He is still at the doorstep and in his hand is a bucket full of blueberries. The bucket is an old paint container, now used for blueberries instead of paint. It does not matter what colour paint was previously stored there. He just stands there, mute as sin and cold as the forest.
We could not stand there forever, and even if we did it would not mean anything.
I reach out and take the handle of the bucket, pull him into the house. Sit him down in front of the fire of forgotten forest wood and dry hopes and fears and burning years. He counts blueberries into one of my tins whilst I search for the money to give him and wonder where this could all end.