The Blind Man and Eddie by Jane Burn

Tell me the specials, he says, so I do.
Oreo lunch packs, a pound, KitKats, a pound.

Let me feel them. I put them in his palms. Watch
the girder, slap-bang in the middle of the jam aisle.

Where are we? The cheese? I push the trolley –
he stands on my left, his right hand next to mine,

on the bar, warmth passing between, the occasional
touch. Eddie, wearing his pummelled Euripides face,

hips splaying to the onset of age. Harness slung
on his steady frame, wire handle hanging floor-wards.

He has a younger one, at home. Massive – only one
and bigger than him. Paws big as a man’s fist, I bet,

says I. Excuse me, sorry! Excuse me, sorry!
The other shoppers glom the lanes, peevish bison,

crowding for first pick of the bread. Robinsons, three
for two. I can’t place your accent. Where are you from?

His life, more interesting than mine. He lived in Spain,
is into maths and sciences. We both love horses.

After reading him the info on the lightbulb boxes, I almost feel
I know him well enough to admit that I believe I have

an occupation of ants inside my head, all the colours
of the rainbow. Clever things, antenna

made from embroidery floss, abdomens of glass –
I almost tell him this, but don’t. He looks past my face.

You’re funny. I leave him by the taxi rank, time for him
to smoke a fag before it comes. I squat, take the dog’s face

in my mitts, scumble his jowls. See you next week.
Take care. My hands wear hot-sour mutt smell

till breaktime. On my leg, a few grey hairs –
silver needles, overtaking the bister of his coat.

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