Since my liberation from work,
thanks to early retirement, I enjoy looking out
from my bedroom window, onto the street below,
gazing at the Monday to Friday morning parade
of school kids, students, workers, and the mums,
escorting their young children to school.
Memories: of fearful schooldays,
of miserable, stress-filled days
in gloomy, depressing offices;
all long behind me, now. “Hallelujah!”
I inwardly cry, in exultation;
a little celebration of freedom, every morning.
But who’s this, in the midst of the mums?
A woman I’ve never seen before.
Along she comes; tottering on high heels,
swaying from side to side, swigging
from a can of super-strength lager.
A mop of messily-arranged red hair
strewn across the top of her head.
She wears a skimpy, black, halter-neck top,
befitting the crazy heat wave we’re suffering.
She stops, directly below my window;
bends down, to reach into her carrier-bag.
I can see an enigmatic tattoo
on her sun-reddened shoulders.
She straightens up, swigs from the can,
looks blearily around her for a moment,
then moves along again; tottering,
swaying, staggering. The mums walk
around her, not looking her in the eye;
keeping their children well away from her.
In some strange way, I envy her;
admire her bravery, her stupidity,
her ramshackle recklessness.
She is escaping from, or entering into,
some kind of personal Hell.
Whatever it was; whatever it is,
I can’t help but wish her well.
In my younger, wilder days, I was occasionally partial to swigging the odd can or two of super-strength lager, at any time of day. It was a habit that I gradually learned – from hard-won experience – was deleterious to my health, and I eventually managed to stop it. But I can’t help feeling a twinge of empathy now, when I come across somebody blatantly swigging strong lager early in the morning, and – as in the poem above – I start to wonder about the circumstances surrounding it.