Slip Alley XXVII

Ollie sits on the plane,
the aisle seat, Greta is curled up
leaning on the window, sleeping.
He wonders how some could sleep
so peacefully, he sighs and flicks
through the movies ….

……………………..

Sveta cracks her knuckles,
rolls her shoulders,
stretches like a cat,
a tight band burns between
her shoulder blades,
she stoically types
fingers flying,
disregarding redlined typos…

…………………….

Greta stands with Ollie
at Noi Bai Airport talking
on her mobile phone,
she turns to Ollie,
“Our taxi has just arrived,
he’ll drive us to the ferry in Haiphong
but first he wants to introduce you to
his father…”

The taxi driver greets Greta
with  kiss on each cheek,
he turns to Ollie saying,
“I speak English, I studied
at Berkley,” and warmly shakes
Ollie’s hand.

The driver phones ahead
while dodging snarly traffic:
handcarts, bicycles, motorbikes and cars,
he tells Ollie laughing,
“These Vietnamese must keep moving,
‘If you stop, you are dead!’ crazy people”.
“My father is waiting,
he has his favourite Hanoi beer,
he is an old patriot, remembers
student days with Uncle Ho,
my wife has cooked our lunch,
I hope you like seafood – soft shelled crab.”

…………………..

They pull up in a narrow lane,
somewhere in the old quarter,
the driver unlocks a greenish gate,
which looks like it hadn’t been painted
since the American War,
inside there is a verdant courtyard
with orchids and large bonsais,
a petite tabby cat
rubs herself against Ollie’s ankles.
As he crouches to pat her,
he hears the driver’s father
“Welcome comrade, it seems
the endgame has begun.”

Startled, Ollie stands
and shakes the old man’s hand
inclining his head courteously,
the old man laughs handing Ollie
an ice cold glass of beer.

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