Paternoster

I can’t remember the name of the square.

It wasn’t Paternoster, but it was… nearby.

Anyway, I’m sat there smoking a cigarette and this

Woman, I guess, approaches.

Kind of hobbles up to the square, up the steps.


She’s… just… I mean, she’s just a sack.

She’s an old paper sack filled with

Paper sacks. A sack full of sacks.

And her face looks like an old football.

One of those old footballs

Where the plastic bits have come off

So it’s just a worn canvas ball, really

But bleached by the sun

So it’s kind of crispy and wrinkled.

Kind of angular and that.

Like a crusty old football that’s been burnt by the sun

So it’s all tough and leathery.


And her face is just kind of hidden amongst these rags

Like her face is just this tiny… impression.

It’s the impression of a face,

An old, tough, leathery football-face

Hidden amongst a bundle of soggy, shitty, tattered rags

Sticking out of a paper sack.

That’s filled with paper sacks.


Only the paper sacks are all battered and shitty too.

Kind of like they’ve been left on the street too long.

Maybe on the top floor of a multi-storey car park or something

In summer time, like, so the dust from the cars has just…

Coated these bags

And the sun has just

Destroyed them.

Just burnt the dust right onto them.

Like a sack that’s not made of paper anymore

But is instead made from the vestiges of old rainwater and some dust

That was spat from the undercarriage of a car

Onto the pavement,

And burnt into something that resembles a paper sack.


Anyway, she hobbles over to me

Reaches into the bin which is next to me

And just rummages through it.

Just rifles through it to see if she can find anything useful

Or valuable

Or…

Or just anything really

Something, nothing – doesn’t matter

I mean that’s hardly the point, right?

Like, this is her routine.

This is her job, I guess, the way she feeds herself.

This is how she takes her mind off things

Or… whatever.


So she pulls an empty coke can from the bin,

She drinks it,

And then she leaves.

And I just sit there,

Just watching a paper sack

That’s filled with paper sacks

That’re made from dust and spit

That have been burnt into a crusty shell,

Wander off down Wood Street, or Bread Street

Or some other fucking street.

I just watch this paper sack hobble off down the road,

I finish my cigarette,

I stamp it onto the pavement,

And I leave.

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