These scavengers for wood beside the Thames,
I take in their glutinous, brown, tar-like stink.
In the sieve of their thick, matted hair,
They trap all the dirt and the darkness of London.
Their exile shelters, nurtures them in silence.
I too am a scavenger,
I too am an exile ,
Looking to join them,
A scavenger of words beside the Thames.
But their exile is deeper than mine.
I see their make-shift shelters from the rain -
Boxes, slumped against concrete walls -
And how they coil inside,
Eyelids heavy with numbness.
For warmth, I squat in a phone booth, staring out.
A sparrow of ice alights.
A woman's lips leave a promise on the glass.
My palm throbs between cheek and pillow.
The smell of weaning plugs my nostrils.
I hear the gentle swish-swish of autumn foliage.
A train on some nearby platform sighs.
A suitcase hesitates to move.