She bolts in
Through the ‘Out’ gate
Stands in sneakers and distress
Her school uniform, her hair – wet
Clinging to her cry for help
We all turn to stare
From our fixed queue order
Some of us try to understand
To spend some listening
This side of the counter
They’re all after her
She couldn’t study
She is in need of a dollar
Her world, she’s broken it, she said
Most of us fold our concern
Into a bland expression
Or lock eyes with the floor
She cries again, now a reprimand
“Somebody help me,” she accuses
Catches my eye
Draws closer
Coffee coloured rings round her eyes
A slight twitch at the corner of one
Brings her back to the beginning
Of her grooved spinning crisis
Her world, she’s broken it, she said
She reminded me so much of what I knew
I couldn’t reply
The familiar froze me
Not even an impotent reassurance
Left my mouth
Someone stepped up to the mark
Behind me, from the queue’s end
The older man took the helm
With an instruction
“Come in, sit down,
We’ll make a call”
Practicality. That is what she needed.
I’d stood and stared while she pleaded
slunk away with wine and cigarettes
to forget who she reminds me of
her world, she’s broken it, she said
I crept into mine instead