That scream connected
with the deepest level of guilt.
I’d been breezing by the charity shop,
litter and leaves scuttling ahead in a chill wind.
I saw him strapped into a chair
on the chewing gum pavement,
pulling taught in a fury
of condensation and sputum.
I stopped a safe distance away,
mingling-in with the bus queue,
all eyes askance and tutting as one,
wondering if (and how) to intervene.
Best not to get involved.
It’s nothing to do with us,
it would cause more trouble
than it was worth.
So I left to get some food,
relieved to find him gone on my return.
A clear misunderstanding:
mum had been in the shop all the time,
had emerged to the relief of all,
smiles and hugs and kisses all round.
But no. There he was ahead of me,
blighting my eye, my mind,
outside the chip shop
surrounded by shell suits and smoke,
the swearing and the sputum –
on the chewing gum pavement.
poem © copyright df barker 2012
*poem first published in 2011 in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.