He crumples, drops his paint (‘Ruby Surprise’),
a tall grey shape unseasonably dressed
losing his wallet and American Express
at the exit of the D-I-Y.
The sliding doors think twice but try to close;
they slide apart and shut again and jam
waisting the shape that is no longer man
but just a bundle of outmoded clothes.
Our hot and restless queue grows still,
a manager (discreetly) comes to say,
“We apologise for the delay,”
and ushers us towards another till.
The man had turned, smiled and shrugged at life
– a hot day and an unpriced can
with barcode that a cashier couldn’t scan,
and getting stick from an impatient wife.
A cushion has been found, placed on the floor,
below grey hair, grey face, disheartened eyes.
His wife kneels by a can that says ‘…Surprise’.
I push my trolley to another door.
- – – Tony French, 2011 – – –