Five O’Clock Shadows

This is the time of day when we in the men’s ward
Think “One more surge of the pain and I give up the fight”
When he who struggles for breath can struggle less strongly
This is the time of day that is worse than the night.

I stumbled across a segment of John Betjeman’s poem Five O’clock Shadow inscribed on the underground wall in Kalvin Ter, Budapest. It made me stop. It made me reflect in this place of passing strangers…

Nine months later I stopped in Trafalgar Square, surrounded by pigeons, and there was something written on the pavement in chalk. It said:

“If nobody drops a coin here by 5pm, I’m going home and shooting myself.”

I lent down and began to scribe, at the bottom

It is all there
there at the bottom,
all the pearls and jewels
all the diamonds
they’re all down there
waiting for you!

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