Electric Windmill Press

“The man who stopped for a chat” by Kelly Creighton

I manoeuvred the children out of the car,
cream on noses and sun-hatted heads;
to walk from the car-park for an adventure
playground treat between school-runs.

The man in front opened his boot, his dog
hurtled out to greet us; an old collie cross.
The man in vest and shorts came over and
in that half hour I knew him considerably.

He lived alone now (apart from old Buddy).
Successful in work, his luck ran out twice.
I heard of his family; watched sunlit eyes
rumple as he spoke of his grandchildren.

We learnt what school was like in 1942
and his thoughts on today’s education system.
Straggles of white hair, bald at the crown,
face chronicled by the treks he had taken,

(and the journeys he had conjured, Himalayas
from the shade of his blacked-out classroom).
The dent in his nose; a childhood mishap
or pub brawl? It would have been rude to ask.

The children ruffled Buddy, as they stood patiently
(for once) beside the car, only one murmur
of ‘can we go to the swings now mum?’;
spellbound, like me, to see Santa Claus in May.

Ashamed that I often bypassed older people
(all people in fact) in my dashes.
Three days since he had last spoken
to someone; I really could be a little kinder.

The man said goodbye and went on his way,
but we never got to the park. Although I
vowed to engage more, I have found that
folk are much friendlier when the sun is out.

Kelly Creighton was born in Belfast; she is a poet, writer and artist. She writes about local landscapes and relationships. Having published poems in anthologies and shorts in magazines, Kelly is currently editing her novel.

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