Down the rabbit hole.

Shame on me, on you.

Tight to the corner of the closed Polish shop he sat, a thin wedge of cardboard separating him from the cold concrete. He’d inadequate clothing against the chill fog creeping around the carpark. I yanked at the zip of my coat, gathering the collar high to my chin so that the tips of my ears were snug. Hands deep in my pockets I shuffled towards the German supermarket, grimacing at the pain from a pulled back muscle or trapped nerve.

On reaching this homeless man, I noticed he was frail and quiet, not one of the professional beggars who usually occupy the more lucrative space nearer the shop. I stopped and waited until he gazed up. His eyes were clear. Alcohol was not his armor. I suppose it is shame that often makes us stammer in such situations. Not this time.  This man was calm, almost serene. No aura of hopelessness or anger.

“Is there anything you would like from the shop?”

His eyes drifted to an open tin by his side. “No,” he said, “I’ve enough for today.”

He probably hadn’t eaten a morsel this morning. Concerned only that he had enough dog food for his friend, possibly his only friend, he cradled the terrier, clad in a thick doggie jumper. I asked a second time. He thought for a moment, then smiled. “A SMALL bottle of water, please.”

I’m the one who is homeless — this man owns the world.

Norman Morrow 2017


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