Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Cup

By AIDAN O'SHEA © 2012

A Spring tide lapped over the river boardwalk

And left a salty puddle in my path.

I had to sidestep, and then noticed

The outstretched hand holding a polystyrene cup:

Universal logo of the homeless and the lost.

He squatted low and almost foetal,

Looking every inch an unperson

Stripped of dignity, beyond shame,

Thrown there by the tide.

The wet hostel of St. Vincent de Paul

Does not open until five o'clock.

I felt a pang of guilt and fumbled for some coins,

Sliding them into the cup.

He lowered it with trembling hands  

To count the Dutch Gold inside.

"Sank you wery match" he mumbled.

Romanian, I thought, or maybe from Ukraine.

How can his life be better here than there?

Ten minutes later, I folded a scarlet napkin

And wrapped it tightly round the Pyrex coffee cup.

My troubled thoughts subsided

As the first sweet mouthful of latte hit my throat. 

Under the scarlet napkin

The logo on my cup read Starbucks.

But still the nagging thought remains:

What made his life of crushable polystyrene,

Mine of toughened glass?

Perhaps that salty puddle was made of tears.


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