Mark Terrill

THE TURNAROUND

 

I’m walking down the pedestrian-congested Bahrenfelder Strasse in Hamburg just passing the Fabrik where I’ve seen John Cale, Lee “Scratch” Perry, the Mekons & so many other concerts over the last 30 years & then on past the big organic food supermarket swarming with all those super-hip politically correct couples paying horrendous prices for a bunch of grapes flown in from South Africa by a jet spewing its noxious exhaust all across the skies & just as I’m abreast of that big brick office complex housing all the medical practices a ground-floor door swings open & I see this young couple coming out maybe in their early twenties if even that—looking smart & hip & handsome & well-to-do but not particularly snobby or uptight & maybe even somewhat sympathetic—& suddenly I notice that the girl’s face is twisted into this contorted expression of sorrow & grief with tears running down her cheeks & the guy has his arm around her in this very possessive yet comforting way while biting his lower lip in a measured grimace of sheer determination obviously confronted with a whole new kind of challenge & in the very moment that they pass me by going in the other direction I turn & glance at the sign on the brick wall next to the door & see that they’ve just left the office of some gynecologist & immediately I’m speculating as to the source of all that grief & sorrow realizing that whatever it is it must be pretty serious maybe even major & while still walking I glance back & see the couple stopping on the sidewalk impervious to the throngs of passing pedestrians & the guy throwing both his arms around the girl in this big heartfelt real-deal embrace meant to palliate & assuage whatever can be palliated & assuaged by such a gesture in such a moment & I can see by the girl’s body English & overall composure that the well meant intention of his gesture is coming through loud & clear & I can feel my own lagging faith in mankind getting this sudden boost like a big shot of vitamin B complex for the soul & I can feel the iron grip of cynicism in which my psyche usually finds itself starting to loosen up & I know that those two kids are going to make it & pull through & get beyond it all whatever it may be & who knows maybe we’re all going to make it & pull through & get beyond it all but certainly not without the help of someone else who really & truly gives a shit someone determined not to get turned around by the vagaries & exigencies of human existence someone prepared to take the extra effort to try to turn those very vagaries & exigencies around & send them back to wherever they might have come from even if it’s only one single fleeting gesture among all the others on the teeming Bahrenfelder Strasse in Hamburg.

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MARK TERRILL is a native Californian and ex-merchant seaman living in Germany since 1984, working as a shipyard welder, road manager for rock bands, cook and postal worker. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, prose poems, memoir, and translations, most recently Diamonds & Sapience (Dark Style, 2017), and Competitive Decadence (New Feral Press, 2017). He holds no diplomas or degrees whatsoever.

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Read more by Mark Terrill:

 
Poems in B O D Y
A translation of Rolf Dieter Brinkmann’s “Some Very Popular Songs
A poem in The Diagram
Prose poems in The Brooklyn Rail
Remembering Paul Bowles in Empty Mirror
 
 

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