Tol 

You come to the entrance,
and reach for the door.
Forgotten hanging baskets,
full of withered flowers.
Breathing in the cigarette smoke
from the old fish wives,
as they gossip and cackle in the door way.

You ask them ‘excuse me please‘,
they snarl ‘sorry love‘.
A half toothed smile doesn’t feign well
their mistrust of you.
Their eyes tell a different story.
They know you’re not from where they’re from,
yet they’ve seen you here
many times before.

And why do you come?

You make your way inside.
All eyes on you as you move past the men,
the men who spend their days here.

The air, thick with the odour of alcohol,
sweat, tobacco.
Unwashed clothes, unwashed bodies.

They leer at you,
Alright love
Where yer been?”

They try to hold your hand.
Try to give you a kiss on the cheek.

Yer a luvverly girl y’are“,
an Irish accent shouts

And why do you come? 

“Dunt gu near that lot lass thull gang rape yer” 

A girl you’ve met before,
sniggers in your ear, a warning.
She moves away with that swagger of hers.
‘I wish I was as tough as you’,
you think, as you watch her join her gang.

And why do you come?

You make your way to the bar.
You don’t attempt a smile anymore,
smiles don’t work with Hayley,
you’re still not sure why.

Sometimes she is pretty, feminine, laughing,
sometimes aggressive, volatile, threatening.

“Alright ‘Ayley”
“Usual love?”
“Cheers” 

And with broken acrylics she hands you your pint.
You turn from the bar,

And why do you come?

You move though the room,
past the karaoke warblers.
Singing for a love lost to alcohol.
Singing for a love lost to heroin.
Singing for lost mothers, fathers,
brothers and daughters,
sisters and sons.

And why do you come? 

You head outside.
A small smoking area with a broken bench,
where an old man is hunched,
his face long and worn.
Years of hardship etched into the wrinkles.

He stares at the concrete floor,
as he drags on his filterless roll up.
He doesn’t see you at first,
and you notice the misery, the loneliness.
The boredom, the frustration.

He’s told you before,
“A want to be ‘im again”.
He cannot accept that he can no longer walk properly.
He cannot accept that his health is failing.

And why do you come? 

In his heart he is still a young man.
Making wishes,
chasing girls,
having fun.
Just like you.

 And so you listen.
You hear his tales of the 1960s,
you listen to them over and over.
Because these are his favourite stories,
and it means everything to him
to tell you about them.

You call his name
as you walk towards him.
He raises his head,
Yorkshire cap in place,
and he beams from ear to ear

“Now then!” 

And this is why you come.

 

no face woman © 2017

 

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12 Comments

    1. Thank you so much. I’ve been visiting ‘Tol’ for two years now. He reminds me that we all get old and we’ll all still be young in our minds. He teaches me all the time not to dismiss the elderly or to judge anyone’s circumstances based on our own experiences. Even the other people I meet there, I learn so much from. It’s a place dear to my heart even with all it’s problems. Thanks so much for reading it 💛

      Liked by 2 people

  1. “And Why Do You Come” is this haunting refrain while you explain what is happening around you, obviously meaningless, but it’s what it is and your repeated phrase brings it home again and again. Very beautiful piece.

    Liked by 1 person

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