Colin F. Jones

WHEN I WAS SEVENTEEN

I once prayed for a man who lay dying in bed,
When in reality I was praying for myself instead,
He came in off the streets; from the park where he slept,
I helped him undress for he was old and inept.
I removed coat after coat; I thought him a huge man,
Revealing a thin skeletal frame all withered and wan.
He was a soldier left over from the 2nd World War,
From the streets of affluence wasted, that nobody saw,
He’d come in out of the rain, the Winter, the frost,
To eat the slops of the soup kitchens lonely and lost
To sleep in the dormitories of the foster street home,
Where he died in the night to leave me shattered alone…
Just crying and thinking that no God of good
Would let a man die so sadly, decrepit and unloved.