Monday, 4 May 2009

'Save the Children' by Dorothy Leiper

Today I became invisible, ignored,
bumped into once, but never bored.
Clutching a red collection box, badge secured
to my coat, I took my place
between the butcher's and Ladies Fashion.
Watched people go by, studied faces.

An elderly gent stood to one side as
his well-dressed companion in
last year's lime peered through the glass
at this Spring's offerings in dusky rose.
A sideways glance took in my tin,
he looked away, wiped his nose.

A friend clocked me as he passed the Town Hall
but did not see me. He was diverted.
Something across the road suddenly had all
his attention. He crossed, eyes averted.

I rock back and forth so the coins clink.
We're not allowed to rattle or shake.
A teenager pretends not to hear, slinks
by, feet scuffing, a sad little dog
dragging in her wake.

A cheery bloke accepts the label proffered.
“Thanks love. That'll stop me being accosted
again.” I can not help but snicker
at the thought of ladies leaping out
at passers by unprotected by a sticker!

A friend comes over to chat, or to mock
Fishing in her purse for coins to donate
I hold out the box, check the Town Hall clock.
My stint is nearly over, my duty done.
She grins, “You look like a living statue”.
“Not any more,” I say, “I'm off. It's after one!”

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