Taking a Tumble

by Paul A. Freeman
The Write Idea
Third Place, December 2017
Judged by Michael Larrain


She falls, tripped by the median,
sprawling into the street.
Pedestrians stream by,
chin up, face forward,
oblivious, by intent, to a cry of distress,
to an anomaly in routine;
immunised against a show of concern.

Thirty-something, in treacherous high heels,
she lies, stranded, stretched out in the road –
a fielder spotlit after a diving catch.
Her face, a mask of ashes, registers disbelief
at a feat of tumbling and her invisibility.
She glances from side to side, but London strides on.

A Samaritan breaks ranks, kneels, helps her up
with the aloof delicacy of a stranger.
More shocked than hurt, she tests her wobbly knees,
is guided by the elbow to a kerbside sanctuary,
is handed her crooked-armed sunglasses –
a memento of her mishap,
retrieved from their asphalt skitter.

With a ‘Thank you!’ their paths diverge.
She re-joins the river of disregard,
where kindness is a trickle,
where the herd spurns the stricken,
in a metropolis of automatons
programmed for indifference.



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