by Angela France


collects paper from the pavement;
stoops slowly for receipts, bus tickets, lottery slips
discards foiled wrappers that slide in his fingers,
ignores anything larger than his hand.

Tweed coat moulds to his round back,
bulging pockets dip the front hems
to tap at his knees as he dodders
his way home. Passes big houses,
tired and down at heel; driveways cluttered
with sofas, broken televisions, buddleia sprouting
through cracked concrete.

Stops every few steps and leans against the wall
wherever a broken brick or crumbled mortar
leaves a crevice. Fumbles paper from a pocket,
smoothes it flat, folds and folds again,
sharpens each crease between finger and thumb.

Holds each tiny boat close to his eyes,
turns it round and pinches the bow.
Fingertips leaves and dirt away from a crack,
flicks damp paper to the ground
and gentles a boat into the space, bow first.



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