Swapping Stories With A Stranger

Last night,

the sun was still alive,

looming above,

but flagging with fatigue,

and the sky was a soothing shade of blue.

There were bottles,

broken and blessed on the brown and grey stones of the pavement,

as I crept past,

lighting up a cigarette,

hoping not to halt the slumber of a man who had clearly had enough.

Enough alcohol?

Enough of life’s endless cruelty?

It was hard to say,

but there was a story of great sadness in the scattered bottles,

that I wasn’t sure he was ready to tell.

His eyes opened, despite my best efforts,

glancing to the busy buses that screamed past, and then, with a smile, up to me.

I am not from the North,

so I find it strange to talk to strangers,

but I let him talk,

leaning up against the whitewashed wall,

one scuffed shoe poised at the toes,

like a ballerina,

as he unfolded the map that had brought him to that little corner of the great graveyard of Kent.

He said his mother prayed for him,

and I promised I would too.

He said I’d make a beautiful bride,

and I told him that I’d already tried,

but some things just don’t work out.

He insisted that it would happen,

and I insisted that we go shopping for sandwiches.

The bottles stayed scattered as we parted ways,

both walking down long roads,

with new stories in our pockets,

and less bricks on our backs.

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