There is a statue in the square with my face stitched onto it in stone. It is uncanny granite, and I stare at it a long while, face to face with me, eyebrows raised so they are higher on flesh than they are on stone. I smile at myself.
There is a statue. In the square. Where I grew up. And it has my face and body, my poetry in his hand. There is a plaque below the stone feet, which says, ‘Milton Oliver: a celebration of Pefenton Village’s own bard.’ ‘Celebration’ seems a strange word considering this metal man is my obituary.
I have been dead for the length of time it takes to carve a statue, but in contrast, there is also a gravestone a few streets away that says ‘Milton Oliver: beloved son and husband.’ That is a different celebration. A sadder one, one that the wife made herself so it should be more touching, but it actually isn’t because there is a statue of me in the square.
Me, in the square of my hometown, where I coughed smoke into my youthful lungs, and lay looking at the drunken stars. Pefenton’s own pre-bard bard. Or something. Now bronze, stone, with well-shaped metal cataracts, taller than me, holding a poem carved in stone. Not my finest. I wish they’d chosen Graphite Essays.
They’ve all been buying my books. Pefenton and beyond. I’d like to know why they didn’t do that when I was alive and could have used the royalties, but now, I suppose, I am Royalty. I am the celebrated, late poet, Milton Oliver, and they are remembering my life and times. I mean, I can’t say I blame them. Life of the party. If this was a celebration of my life in life, it would be raucous. No wonder they built a statue of me. The only funeral that could compete with my birthdays.
A statue of me in the square. And, look, there’s some lads I went to school with. Ian…something, and… something Smith. Or something. They’re stopping, too! I knew Ian and Whatshisname would never forget me, from that very first moment they stuck my head down the–
“Look at that, James!”
(James, of course! James Smith!)
“Haha, I know, do you think he paid them to build it?”
“I think they should at least have chosen Graphite Essays.”
Well, I’ve had better parties.