Born again

Photo by Pixabay on

Born again

A man botched up from sticks and bones  –

all angles, elbows pointing out,

and one leg twisted round its mate

like ivy round a tree.

As we come abreast of him, I see

the sleeveless denim jacket, skinny arms,

pale and freckle -spotted, his white face

wet with effort, clenched like a closed fist.

“You’ll walk with me,” a child’s voice

slurred around the edges,

a statement, not an invitation.

We stand still.

He finds a solid anchor for his crutch

then drags his tangled limbs to follow it.

We move forward just an inch or two.

His name is Tim and he was born again

ducked in the winter river last December.

Three crucifixes hang round his neck

like winners’ medals.

The square is transient space , where every hour

a thousand different purposes collide

and split away. A place to walk across

or cycle through, which only takes a moment.

It takes us half an hour to get across.

We pause.

“ Born again” he mutters , “I’m born again”

over and over.

A child cries out – a yelp of pain –

head-high above the flinching crowd

a flock of pigeons whirr like shrapnel.

I watch them swing a circuit round the sun.

“Born again”

When I turn back to look at Tim

he’s gone

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