He turned up with a pushcart, the old boy
who moved in across the street. An eccentric
Mum called him, whatever that meant.
He didn’t have very much. A threadbare armchair,
a wind-up gramophone, a photo of a girl
in a Breton lace cloche cap, a parakeet in a cage
and an old violin.
He’d give me sweets, biscuits sometimes, pat
me on the head, play me tunes. A loner he was,
no friends or visitors to speak of.
Of a weekday, my Nan cooked his lunch
and I’d take it over on a tray, except on Sundays
when he’d come to us.
Uncle Sam I called him. He’d chat and chat
for hours, telling stories. Words way beyond my ken,
but the grown-ups listened, enthralled. From time
to time they sobbed behind their hands
except for Uncle Sam. His eyes were dry,
something hard to understand.
Of an evening, I’d watch him from my window
as he stood there at his; transfixed, looking at the dark.
My sister said to tell on him. He could be a peeping Tom.
So I did, I told my mum and she said she doubted it.
They’d put out both his eyes at Auschwitz.