Sunday, July 6

Circles

THERE HE GOES, merrily, up and down the palindromes. He takes his cart along the route and protests to none nor speaks to strangers but pauses for a chat with those he recognises from day after day. His cart rackets along the pavement. It is summer and he is sitting face-to-face with the sun. It is better in the summer, he thinks, because it is dry and the litter doesn’t stick to the floor and can be swept up easily. He stands out against the scenery in his high-vis’ overalls, stark fluorescent yellow reflecting the sun as instructed. There is no rain to stick the litter to the floor; in the litter are things he sees not in winter but only in summer. He sees the litter and knows the season. People drop the same amount of litter in winter and summer.
It is the late afternoon.
Slowly the sun is going down and the heat is getting over its own intensity. Bow Rd is all packed with cars fleeing the city at a sluggish pace, one bonnet shining against the kissing lips of a shining bumper.
He stops to take in a young lady walking past who, in the carelessness of July, has forgone her bra and allowed her back, exposed by a gentle black dress, to capture the sun with melanin and stirring melatonin and there bake the muscles of shoulder and flank, fluctuating in the cycle of her stride and fluttering the side of breast against the shutter of her arm.
A pub has its doors open and chatter coming from within. Somewhere inside the layer upon layer of sound – city sound coming from city everywhere! – is the commentary of a football match. He leaves his cart beside the road, beside a bin he was about to empty (a black binbag flying out as a wing in the motor wind), and heads into the pub whose name is only a sign hung above and the rendezvous of many.
In the top corner is fixed a television set. He stops to watch, looking up. His tight neck pulls his jaw open. Not many other people in the pub are watching the football because there is not much outside of their gossip that they are prone to care about. Condensation leaves perfect circles on the wood. He watches the footballers on the screen and marvels. He wishes he didn’t have to work so that he could watch the footballers all day. He is laughing and smiling at the screen.
Through the open door, where his cart is still within sight, a cool breeze pours upon the punters. It is one-nil. He stands there for a minute or two. No one offers him a drink, nor do they disturb him. He is in no one’s way. Up there, diagonally, the football is being played; thousands of miles away in a country he hasn’t been to the sun is beaming and being carved circular by the stadium’s roof. The players play on. He feels his perspiration cool sticky to his clothes. It is only a break, a recess, a sin toward his boss, the state, and none object. He finally scratches his head of a trickling bead. There is still work to do on the route.

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