Out of Order

A chance meeting gave me another dimension to our politicians’ crusade against welfare expenditure.


out of order sign, vector




I find it difficult  to socialise when undressed.

Body image, lack of calcium when very young,

the dislike of goat’s milk  curving my spine.

I adjusted my towel, she seemed determined to talk.

First the cold sauna then the steam room’s dirty door,

she would complain discreetly,  because the staff  were good to her,

but being disabled with a reduced immune system

the dirt on the door was important .

I could have made a non-committed grunt

instead I praised her  considerate actions,

and thus the moment of evasion passed.


Words came faster now, with occasional repetition,

to enforce the importance of the point ;

Mother’s early death, whilst she sat GCE’s –

the list of her results impressive.

With  the detail in recall I knew this was  cathartic.

An alluded violent act by a much older man,

who  lives near her still, destabilised her,

the implication was he didn’t  ‘go all the way’

— but I now knew I had to.


As the afflictions  unrolled:

Bi-polarism, arthritis, obesity, a very ill husband,

an autistic child, seriously reduced finances;

retirement, a pension plan that failed,

(with  detailed figures and  tax  computation),

the Terror was revealed.

Recalling  a recent summons to ‘Benefit re-assessment’,

fear agitated her eyes,  and thinned her pale lips

their precarious  lives could crash to succour  ‘welfare saving’.


She had been saved  — fifteen years before, a born again Christian.

This confession brought a  calmness to her face

I would not touch with words, and we parted in silence.


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