a simple sign that says kindness helps
and needs volunteers
so i do one day a week alone upstairs
the power of such a thing is endless
as i sift and sort the black bags and
cardboard box i think of you
a leather bag with purse: pink plastic comb
still grubby with your hair intact.
lace handkerchiefs, letters i leave unread.
dead people’s handbags, dead folks
clothes. mothballs they say are hard
to come by, i know different, smell them now.
washing hands is regular. compulsive.
odours cling. thoughts sing that kindness
sounds, chatter from the store below rise and when thoughts subside
i listen here and there, customers clients and staff.
the box contains your little things, the company of pretty
your joy of small items
dust coats the air, motes of your living days. a drink is
welcome. move on.
another bag is baby clothes, joyful thoughts of children growing.
showing them to colleagues we smile together, steaming in
the upper room
warm the days now, summer the nights are hotter. murmuring continues below.
you hear things if you listen.
we should help people in this country
first, not those abroad .
yet these are the numbers the scared and dying
established volunteer talking loudly to her young customer
asking about the washing,
hang it in the garden, in sun and breeze
to dry fresh.
staff replied that is what peasants do.
gippos, you know their sort.
i stopped the sorting.
fight, flight or write of it?
i touched a little coat gently
said goodbye to that upper room left quietly
it is hard to do nothing, not react
their sign says kindness helps
a red cross