August rain drops tumble onto London pavements.
Listen hard and you will hear a million umbrellas unfurl out of tube station exits,
under grey skies office workers trudge to joyless office blocks full of flickering computer screens
I sit outside a cafe at Notting Hill Gate, genteel Notting Hill sheltering from the rain
An old lady rough sleeper shuffles by my table, reeking of stale old lady piss.
She pauses for a moment that turns into an eternity as she rests her hand on my table.
The smell of her seeps into me, I try to stop myself retching, wishing she would go away,
I stare at her gnarly hand, long twisted fingers, nails caked in grime.
She asks me if I have a fag, and I lie, no sorry last one.
Her gaze fixes on me, tired eyes filled with forgetfulness and I know she’s seen through me.
I finish my coffee and leave her leaning on the table for support.
Skulking away unwiling to make her passage more gentle with a cigarette or a few coins
On I walk, certain that if anyone looks at me they will see
my humanity dripping from me like the august rain
onto a London pavement
to collect in lumpy puddles and flow away in the gutter