My feet stick to the ground
and I stare, long enough to recognise him
below the Kings Cross arches —
dark brown dips below the skyline
I can’t remember his name.
I close my eyes as tightly as
I can and think of the
words we’d exchanged.
Greg, Jeff, James
there are only so many names, I choke
back the consonants
like gargling salt water.
Someone drops their oyster card.
He picks it up with his sandpaper fingers
she shuffles on the spot, wiping her sleeve
and holds her hands to her mouth
as if the place reeks; hoards travelling
on the Piccadilly line,
the ones who sit have no where to go.
At night, the red overhead
flickers like Christmas
I watch his underground sanctuary,
shaking with heat, or movement or
Tinsel smeared with that 70s charm;
I watch clumps of it gather as he works
it bulges, too old to dazzle.
The dark, the loneliness of it without
the lights. The charm of the transport
a cold wet slab
a living scab, he was called; a thousand particles
come up from his lungs,
the walls say scumbag
but his hands clutch to something above
him, thinking of someone else.
When I come back
to see the lights flicker along
the hot placenta blue, trying the
I say a few words.
I trace his forehead.
I think of the cracks
in the concrete
and the way his feet were
wrapped in black woollen socks,
the way his hands were still cupped —
how I asked and stared
as if that was enough.
Copyright © Anna Frances Conway 2017
Anna Frances Conway is an eighteen year old writer from Northern Ireland; she has previously had her work published in The Penny Dreadful and Abridged magazine.