I hung on his every word,
After all, he was the youngest of 21 children,
And had 82% of his body tattooed.
Adding these figures together, I quickly came to the
Conclusion this stranger was 103 times wiser than me.
First off, he listed his ailments –
They were many.
How had he coped with these afflictions?
With simply good grace.
Next came his time in prison,
Years spent between his cell, the workshop and
The yard. Those "boys" were his brothers,
He missed them, missed the solidarity of incarceration.
Then came love: never mind them, he said.
They don't understand us, will never understand us.
What they want and we can give will never meet.
This led to his child – his only child,
His son, his pride and joy. He's in college, he said.
He's on the right road, he'll make something of himself.
All of a sudden, I felt the cold. All of a sudden, this
Train journey turned a bend. His stop was fast approaching –
Athy, with its detox clinic. He had only a half bottle
Of wine left. Things turned serious. He told me I had
A demon on my shoulder, he could see it. He said,
Someone called Jason meant me harm. I stayed quiet,
People were uncomfortable.
Athy was announced over the intercom and I suggested
He get his things together. He suggested,
I mind my own business. I reminded him of his appointment and
Talked of his son as I walked his bag slowly
Toward the train door. He followed me to
The exit, the great horror awaiting him on the other side.
As we parted, he gave me his venom. In a single moment,
All I'd been given –
The love, the opportunity, the high-minded ideals –
Stood between us like a peacock. The colours blinded him as
He stepped from the train into the waiting arms of good advice.
I returned to my seat and looked out the
Window. A plane flew through the sky as the train
Pulled out of the station.