This article is taken from Stand 211, 14(3) September - November 2016.

N. Josephs Broom
For Naomi

See him just once, advancing, silhouetted against an immensity of sky and arid hill upon hill, and you will immediately recognize him if ever you see him again.

Not tall, not fat, but compact and muscular, he strides through that space, his dog beside him. His strange name is ‘Broom’. The dog, a bitch he saved from drowning when she was tiny, is called ‘Ridge’ – but that’s not so odd. She is a ridgeback, devoted and faithful, guardian and friend.

Broom’s wants are few, his diet is simple. Mostly he needs space. He’s a loner, and that is strange too, because he has an almost identical twin.

Nonetheless, he also has what can only be called style – hand-me-down style: a pale belted raincoat with lots of pockets and flaps, and a long, long, very shabby scarf for winter. Sometimes he wears baggy yellow trousers into which he looks as if he might someday give birth to Mahomet; and a canvas bag slung
from his shoulder, probably an army-surplus item. Otherwise there are worn jeans, close-fitting t-shirts, purple or blue faded to almost white, with buttons at the neck. When he’s working hard in the summer he often puts a dark sweat-band round his head, over his curly hair that is streaked with grey.

Yet one gets the impression, somehow, of a latter-day reincarnation, a knight of old. The wallet slung from his belt might be the sheath of a dagger, not of a cellphone. One cannot help suspecting ...
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