Soaked to the skin, she
shuffles in behind me,
bags in tow. She’s only here
to shelter from the rain.
So am I, if the truth be known.
Cussing under her breath,
she wipes her nose on the sleeve
of her coat – held together
by a wing and prayer.
She glances my way, or so
it would seem, with eyes that protest,
“Been there, done that. Wrote the book
and the fucking screen-play.”
I pretend to search the rails
crammed full of cruddy crimplene dresses,
Bri-nylon blouses, bobbled sweaters –
all discarded from the over-bulging
wardrobes of its caring clientele.
The girl from behind the counter
tells her to move on – shepherds her
discretely out the door.
For a while she stands, undecided
which way to go, as the rain
drips off the awning onto her hair –
trickles down her neck.
It chills me to the bone
and just to think, charity begins at home,
or so it’s said.
As is the state of our high-streets today
she is spoilt for choice, and hovers
between the Spastic’s and Sue Ryder.
She opts for the latter – settles down
for the night, amidst the black sacks
that keep her warm, on the doorstep.
But not before she gives Help the Aged
an undisputed ‘V’ sign, or so I’d like to think …
As if it really mattered.