It’s Night Time But The Sky Was Black Anyway

She sits under her rain-heavy shawl,
in amongst the cardboard boxes
outside the back of the Co-op.
Next to the padlocked and bolted
metal skip which keeps all of the
‘out of date’ food safe from the
desperately poor people’s clutches.
Until it can be safely lorried away
to the landfill site by the old wharf
where the potbellied rats and seagulls
get to feast upon it at their own leisure.
She’s counting the copper two pence’s,
one pence’s, half pence’s and a single
silver five pence over and over again
in her fingerless gloved, grubby hands.
But try as she might, there is just no
making a round twenty five pence
out of twenty three and a half pence.
A measly one and a half pence short
for the cheapest bag of steaming chips,
that’s the sad mathematics of her plight,
to swap a belly full of emptiness for one
of warm salt and vinegared potatoes.
Wearily she rises and sets off hungrily
for the fourth time this foul Winter’s
evening to check the rejected coin slots
of this town’s phone boxes, just in case.

Paul Tristram is a widely published Welsh writer, who’s currently up to his elbows in Magic, and long may it remain this way. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.