The paving stones are uneven and warped.
You wonder how he manages,
with that bad leg of his
He fights to open a sticking door.
A circular window, the only gateway of light
into a dank hallway.
The smell of stale ash,
a life no longer lived,
fills your nostrils and you recoil a little.
A broken spider web hangs from a low ceiling.
You notice the walls are yellow.
Coving, brown with smoke stains.
Skirting boards, cracked and mouldy.
In the kitchen,
in remains of food.
Dead insects lay forgotten on a windowsill.
An oven, thick with grease.
Lino, rising from the floor.
Years of water damage,
tarnish every corner
You make your way down a hallway.
Only the circular light
from the door,
provides enough illumination to find your way.
To a bathroom covered in filth.
Vomit stains the bath and toilet.
A shower curtain, black with mould.
A window, nailed shut,
opaque with years of neglected dirt.
This house could be abandoned.
And yet, here he spends his days and years.
Alone, with his thoughts.
Thoughts of a life misspent.
Thoughts of the family he could have had.
“A was a boozer”
“A was a gambler”
How can he live like this?
You can see his shame,
and it hurts you as much as he.
You deliver the gift you arrived with.
You return to the warmth of your home.
The well kept carpets,
the sanitised kitchen,
your brand new bedding.
You will return, of course you will.
You will make it liveable again.
You see now with such clarity,
that slowly ageing alone,
that drinking yourself to death,
that taking care of number one,
will only lead you to where he is.
He has nobody.
Seeing you is what brings him to life,
You must never abandon him.
And how many others, like him?
How many fading away?
Unable to manage,
too proud to ask for help.
The great wisdom they hold, neglected,
As they are.