It’s November and half way through the Our Father
when Richie lifts his head and slurs ‘Halloween
be thy name.’ We serve plates of food –
little rescue rafts on an uncertain sea.
Even the homeless centre reminds me of you:
the way you talked to the man on the street in Dublin,
bought him a meal in The Bleeding Horse and told him
you’d just lost God. I didn’t know who was helping who.
Richie shovels bolognese, his head hits the table.
Coaxed into standing, he slides
backwards and forwards in unlaced shoes,
‘Come on lad! Come on mate!’
A bruise for a face. He falls and rises, slips
and staggers away between unsteady men.
The chairs are wiped, the floor is brushed,
we wash our hands, and the room steadies.
I remember O’Shea on the steps of The Merrion Hotel –
clean-shaven, his hand out for money, his soft voice.
I gave him five euros just to listen to his story
and wondered if he knew you:
the Good Samaritan from Fermanagh
clutching National Geographic shouting
‘There is nothing. Only this.’