Easy

This poem presented itself to me. One of those true story things. ‘Easy’

Easy

 

“If you think this is easy,

Put on a blindfold,

Get a cane,

And you try it.”

This is one of those reality mornings,

Blood on the pavement at five a.m.

With the drunk and homeless

Shuffling through the dawn streets

While I take long strides

Towards the first train south.

 

My seat is reserved

And by the ninety eighth

Page of my paperback

I am in the city and riding the underground.

 

The discomfort of inaction

Blunders into the carriage at Moorgate

As a voice assures the lost bulk

All he has to do is step off the train

And he will be met at Edgeware Road.

 

His cane is on my blindside

And he is halfway down the carriage and staggering

Before I am even partially in the picture.

 

Surrounded by the sighted seated

He reaches for a pole.

 

The error of his aim is minimal.

 

His fingers close on thin air.

 

The style sisters laugh

While most of us stare into that space

Where nothing is seen.

 

The inaction is unbearable

As I feel myself standing.

 

Simultaneously a young black hand

Takes the blind man’s elbow

And guides him to a seat.

 

I wanted to thank him

On behalf of the whole carriages embarrassment.

 

The blind man talks football

With anyone who will listen

Until one stop from Edgeware Road

The train all but empties.

 

There is panic as he asks if anyone is still there.

 

I am already next to him

Absolving my sins

Talking writing and destinations.

 

At Edgeware Road there is no-one to meet him

And I pass him on to the next stranger.

 

There is a complication on the line

Involving closures and buses

And I see him put back on the train for one more stop.

 

I swap carriages

Picking up the conversation

On the assumption my voice is as recognisable as my face.

I am wrong.

 

We discuss the approaches of faceless multitudes

And his journey.

He has come from Woolwich

And is visiting the fire station at Ladbrooke Grove.

He does this every Saturday

And is wearing a fire brigade jacket.

 

At Paddington I ask a railway employee

In a day-glo jacket and peaked cap

To escort him to the bus.

 

Between reading the menu at the coffee stall

And peering at the departures board

I remember his words.

 

“If you think this is easy,

Put on a blindfold,

Get a cane

And you try it.”


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