Written for: Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads – Weekend Mini-Challenge
“Portraiture” (posted by Kim)
“Write a new poem, or revise an old one, which paints a portrait. It can be of someone you know or have known, a relative or a lover, or it can be a stranger. You could go to a park, café or bar, or even sit on some form of public transport, and observe someone interesting or unusual to portray in a poem, in which you should also speculate a little about their life, their beliefs and relationships, as Heaney does in ‘Docker’.”
There, in the corner, staring at his drink.
The cap juts like a gantry’s crossbeam,
Cowling plated forehead and sledgehead jaw.
Speech is clamped in the lips’ vice.
That fist would dropp a hammer on a Catholic-
Oh yes, that kind of thing could start again;
The only Roman collar he tolerates
Smiles all round his sleek pint of porter.
Mosaic imperatives bang home like rivets;
God is a foreman with certain definite views
Who orders life in shifts of work and leisure.
A factory horn will blare the Resurrection.
He sits, strong and blunt as a Celtic cross,
Clearly used to silence and an armchair:
Tonight the wife and children will be quiet
At slammed door and smoker’s cough in the hall.
Legless, in a wheelchair,
he is parked at side
of highway. He is well
-groomed in clean clothes
and wears a cap. Once,
helping others at roadside,
he was run over. There is
not much money for him
to live. Single, not
homeless, he is there
most days. He prays,
a believer who blesses
all that contribute
to his life. Had he once
a wife, children? I think
of him at night, wonder
what he does. I hope
he has friends around him.