Homeless Man on Tube
An imperfect sketch
Ignored, wandering from carriage to carriage, back and forth, a sign stained with ink and a McDonald’s cup to collect coins.
His speech was not completely coherent, his eyes somewhat glazed though why, I couldn’t tell you. I thought I heard the lilt of the emerald isle as he stumbled through his words, but I confess I could not now be sure. He had a nylon pouch slung across his back and I think — I hope — there was a sleeping bag inside.
His clothes didn’t seem to be too worn, and though thin, he didn’t seem emaciated. But the pallor of his skin was impossible to ignore. It was a shade of jaundice, it looked like parchment, that would crack and crumble to the touch.
I sensed the ignominy he felt, but suffered through; no doubt what little he could collect might get him a meal, a drink, a smoke. Or not.
He repeated his soliloquy of need, as the few passengers before him averted their gazes, ashamed for him or maybe just uncaring.
What would I do in his place? I’m fat from a life of plenty, I’m soft from it. I don’t know if I would have the resilience to put one foot in front of the other, or if I would waste away. Relegated to someones memory, an unshed tear on the cheek of those that knew me.
Something akin to empathy washed over me, I felt his need, or at least the urge to feel his need, and dropped what change I had in to his cup. He thanked me and finished his broken speech.
He stood a few moments, knowing few would consider him, hoping nonetheless. Then, almost without a word he shuffled on, into the next carriage to start all over again.
Alone, and ignored.