The bill was to be paid tonight at last,
had lingered on his desk for weeks on end.
He meant to do it after Sunday lunch
but Sally needed taking to a friend
and on a shelf the crossword half undone,
the paper browned with crumbs and coffee now.
A lidless Biro poised to strike again
when kids and dogs and work and bins allowed.
Close by the door his jacket waits and waits
for cleaning, wine-marred, stained a fading red.
His tennis racket leans amid the shoes
Two broken strings and cracked around the head.
His book is on a chair, and tucked inside,
a ticket from the trip with uncle Ed
still marks the place where tired eyes fell shut
and she, unknowing, left that thing unsaid.
Unread, forever waiting for reply,
his sister’s invitation slips behind
the calendar, that silent proof of life;
in months to come a bitter, tearful find.
The sombre policemen have to knock that night –
he hadn’t had a chance to fix the bell –
she hears and for a moment wonders whothen goes, unknowing, to that private hell.