Antony Johae

Streetwise

It is starting to rain.
Umbrellas are going up, but I don’t own one.
In Oxford Street they’re going home,
but I don’t have one.
I take cover in a station entrance.
The air smells wet, car tyres hiss,
and I shiver.

I settle by the river.
It is night and I lie under the canopy.
I stare at the stars and at the moon’s fullness
and wonder if there are better places.
The pavement penetrates my bed
of newspapers and squashed boxes,
and I shiver.

There’s a girl not far off in a corner.
She talks to me and I get up.
She’s running from a father who beats her.
She’s cold and says she’s hungry.
I go to buy her a burger with my last pound.
When I get back I find her in my sleeping bag.
She takes the burger and tears at it. A wind bites,
and I shiver.

We lie in the bag together.
She sleeps – I feel her warmth
and catch the heat of her breath.
I sleep too and dream of another planet.
I wake at first light and find her gone.
There’s a note: “Thanks – see you again.”
It’s going to be a warm day.

Antony Johae © 2015