Driving through a downpour
I saw a woman, hair streaked grey,
Lain out under a blanket
Head cupped in her hands
And no police or ambulance.
And I looked away, and drove faster.
On, out of town, to meet my unknown destiny.
Along the dual carriageway,
Sped past signposts to turn back
And as I overtook the hearse,
The wreaths around the coffin seemed to be calling,
Calling towards me,
Begging, beseeching, beckoning
Below the tick—tock of windscreen wipers.
Beneath the rain’s dull chatter
Behind the whine of engines
And chimes of breath and blood pulse
A drone, like that of bees.
Or the long drawn murmur of waters
down a distant gorge.
Some message I could not comprehend
In a code I could not decipher.
And that sound, hardly half heard,
Settled in my brain, like migraine
Like a screech of brakes and tyres
And I stopped the car in a layby
Sweating, shivering, shaking
flooded by the naked ordinary horror
Pain of just living
Matter—of—factness of cruelty
Humdrumness of suffering
Watering life like rain
Repeating, again and again
And the ways death seeps, random,
Through hair cracks in the cup of now,
Eroding them into craters
And in an unstoppable tide of feeling,
I penetrated through
the thick crust of custom
and turned back
The homeless are invisible, part and parcel of the concrete in a city. The homeless may have nothing – no material possessions, no bank accounts, no postal zip codes, not even a birthday they can now remember (or maybe, they do) … but surely, they have dreams as they sleep, same as you and me.
I have taken the title for this post from Karen Elaine Spencer’s project on the homeless in Montreal, Canada.
Visit https://67paintings.com/2013/01/ to follow through on this piece.
See Karen’s work here:
Driving through the city
You never see them.
The homeless, they are the faceless.
They apportion the invisible
Between the street and themselves.
But today, as I drive in and out of humming
web of streets I know well, they become visible.
rising greyly from a sidewalk that has
always been there,
resurrecting at a shrub-hid corner…
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