For years he kept a paper stall
From dawn to noon, in heat and cold;
The out-town station, rush hour-thronged,
Knew him as stork-like, thin and tall.
A decade gone, now bent and old,
He wanders lanes whey-faced, intense, untongued.
In dirty T-shirt, flapping coat –Bright sun, wet snow, it makes no odds -
He rifles bins and, poignantly,
Retrieves old papers, then to tote
Them homewards in thick soggy wads
Where window-piled they moulder yellowly.
Unkempt of hair, with sockless shoes,Rifling gutters for mis-dropped cash,
His neighbours keep a chill restraint;
His house is dark, like a puce bruise,
With shattered brick and crumbling sash
And wet rot bubbling under flaking paint.
But once he bantered, doling change,Knowing a hundred folk by sight,
His papers crisp in winter’s air;
The station lights must now seem strange
As, shunned, he shuffles day and night
Clutching pennies to pay his final fare.
© May 2014