As arctic breeze whips over lea,
I sit in peace on slatted bench
and sadly greet odd company –
a stooped and withered unkempt wench.
‘Spare a pound for a feed,
a bag of chips or sandwich pack?’
To impassioned plea I pay no heed.
In arrogance I turn my back.
‘Don’t leave me be, no one will help.
A silver coin?’ she did implore,
in voice as shrill as canine yelp.
’Twas then I knew she’d begged before.
I handed her just fifty pence;
withholding pain and sorrow.
What next I said made little sense:
‘I’ll give you more, tomorrow.’
The sun set late on that next day,
as she sidled to the slatted seat.
Dishevelled clothes, hair matted grey;
no cov’ring on her dirty feet.
A genuine and heartfelt case,
of loneliness and desperate need.
Is that the future I might face?
Is she the herald I should heed?
Discarded by society –
left at night on bench to freeze.
I look at her and think of me,
then to the sky I say: ‘God, please,
did she ever flout your rules?
’cause not has she fared quite so well;
abused and left by ruthless fools?’
Behind me chimes the abbey bell.
In unison we glance around.
Was bell’s toll forewarning sign?
To her I point, my eyes to ground,
‘You go your way. I’ll go mine.’