Collector

Translucent gold.
Translucent gold.

Rummaging through rusted iron

bins filled with ripped bags and

scattered bones,

He chances upon empty bottles

made of plastic that he sheathes

in a hollowed flour sack.

Up to his waist in remnants from

his neighbors, he sifts carefully

so as not to miss any.

He fills three sacks and exits,

carefully closing and bolting the

door even dogs can open.

He shleps his bulky light load

down the broken sidewalks,

only their borders intact.

Across town he goes, checking

bins and cans to add to his stash

that leads him to a garage,

Built of brick with a door that

opens upwards, he exchanges

his bottles for respite.

Taking his empty sacks and

full wallet, he heads back to

his favorite shop.

He loads up on what is most

essential to his life and makes

his way to a quiet corner.

Bottles for new bottles, he empties

the glass of its clear contents

quickly and contentedly.

He scratches his beard through his

threadbare gloves, rubbing his

chest through soiled stripes,

Looking up he sees a familiar face

from his family looking down

upon him.

The violent stare grabs him, and

he is dragged in a stupor through

the snow and slush.

Everything moves too quickly and

he tries to push his brother away,

only to be pushed himself.

Indignation, fury, shame all assail

his enflamed mind and cloud the

vision of blood-soaked eyes.

He trips and falls and his brother

helps him up, brows furrowed in

a sunburned valley.

The man cannot remember much

when he remembers next,

a time quite unfamiliar.

He checks the flour sacks and

ties them again to his belt before

slipping into his boots.

His wallet is light and all the glass

has shattered, so there is nothing left

but to return to the iron.

Composed 03/12/14

Author’s Note: There’s a gentleman I’ve wanted to write about for a while who lives in my little apartment block. He’s always looking to recycle bottles, but sadly, whenever I see him outside of the dumpsters, he’s drunk out of his mind (usually being ushered by a pair of gentlemen who are not afraid to be rough with him). I’ve always wondered what was going on in his life, so I thought I’d try to explore it through a poem.

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