Small Successes

by William Furley

He manages to reverse out of the garage
in one go, without needing to rock back and forth
to avoid the garden gate-post and the neighbour's car.

He says good-morning to the secretary of the firm
in just the right voice: positive but not aggressive,
friendly but not ingratiating, and she smiles back.

At the meeting he tables a motion which the chairman
says 'might be just the job' and the other members
look his way for a second, while he writes a note.

He finds a place in the lunch-time restaurant
not too close to the door, and away from smokers
but still with a good view out of the window

and manages to eat his food -- a tuna salad --
without pieces of lettuce trailing from his mouth
and without the feeling everyone is watching.

He reads through a report and corrects several errors
and re-formulates a concluding paragraph to make it,
in his opinion, much clearer and more persuasive;

he discovers a function of the word-processing programme
which allows him to turn words automatically to capitals
and proceeds to do this with all the proper names;

he makes a difficult phone-call to the auditing department,
gets only the secretary but leaves a very competent
message with her and instructions to pass it on.

On the way home he finds a short cut to avoid the traffic
and the radio plays a song he'd liked when he was younger
and he turns the volume up and moves his head in rhythm

and over supper tells of his successes, sounding modest,
making sure he doesn't talk too much, and remembering
to praise her cooking and show interest in what she says

and manages in bed to steer between the Scylla and Charybdis
of haste and over-long preliminaries, so that her sigh
and his grunt come as near as damn-it to coinciding

and even reads a few pages afterwards of 'Our Planet'
(a report on possible signs of life in a fallen meteorite)
before they turn off the light and say 'good-night'.

©William Furley