I look at it standing there. It is lopsided on the hanger – tired. Drying rain on the shoulders, splashes of mud on the hem.

I empty the contents of the pockets on to the bed:

– a used tissue
– a bus ticket, today’s last journey
– an empty crisp pack, its contents eaten while walking past snarling traffic. The winter city’s rush-hour people passing in the opposite direction. We all walk invisible lines,
carefully calculated; there is no eye contact, we don’t collide
– two ticket stubs, one a cinema ticket the other an open-air concert from last summer
– some notes for a poem, a poem never written, words which once had atmosphere and
resonance, now lie flat and naked on the page
a fresh till receipt

I fold the coat and place it on a sheet of thick brown paper, paper I’d planned to wrap a gift for someone special. If I had string I would finish the parcel with a bow, the way they used to in department stores. Perhaps those old values are still practiced? BUT BLACK ELECTRICAL TAPE WILL HAVE TO DO.

I go down stairs and place the coat in a plastic shopping bag and then a black bin liner. With more black tape I bind it all tight.

I put on outdoor shoes and go into the night (it is still raining) and deposit the parcelled coat in the recycling bin along side shredded personal information and unread news stories. The bin will be emptied in the morning, the last day of the working week.

I return to the house, take off my outdoor shoes, lock the door and close the curtains.


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