Jumpsuit

There must have been something to inspire this story, but I can’t remember a thing. It was included in one of my school’s arts collections, but I don’t remember the collection being on a particular theme, or this being written specifically for that reason. Whatever it was, this is the result.

 

I saw a man in an orange jumpsuit today,
Walking slowly but as if he were running
Against the hoards of people
Flowing in the other direction,

The orange jumpsuit sticking out
Against the work suits, every one a different shade of grey,
Like an adult film store:
Everyone looks but pretends not to notice.

He crossed the busy road
And went into the park,
Slowing his steps even more as he walked through the gate,
As if encountering nature for the first time.

He stood below a tree
And stared up at a bird’s nest in the branches:
A nest no one had ever stopped to look at before,
Probably,
And he heard the bird singing,
Storytelling,
Or singing a lullaby to lull its chicks to sleep.

If I had better sight I might have seen him shed a tear,
And I imagined him, his cheeks moistened from crying
Over this simple beauty,
Embracing the tree for giving the birds a home,
As if encountering nature for the first time.

Instead he just sat down and closed his eyes,
Listening to the storytelling,
The lullaby,
Until the men came and took him away
In chains he didn’t need,
And as he was dragged past me
Mum said he was a bad man
And he would be put where he belongs,
But I just saw the tears on his chin dripping one by one
Onto his orange jumpsuit.

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