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The Man on the Bench

by Rita Croft

He sits by himself on a bench in the park,
And sometimes he stays on his bench till it’s dark.
Dishevelled and scruffy, his clothing well-worn,
He sits there expressionless, weary, forlorn.
And now and again, he utters a sigh,
Though it’s mostly ignored by the folks who pass by.

At night he is grateful to lay down his head.
The Salvation Army reserve him a bed.
A rosy-faced lady brings fresh bread and soup
And then he sits down with the rest of the group
Of lonely, lost souls with nowhere to go.
They’re battered, and shattered; their spirits are low.
They’re broken, downhearted, exhausted and sad –
Characters bruised by the problems they’ve had.

He used to work hard in a furniture store.
But redundancy came and his job was no more.
Then later that year his wife passed away
And slowly his life fell into decay.
He just couldn’t face each lonely tomorrow.
He felt overwhelmed by a mountain of sorrow.
He struggled to cope with his problems alone,
Then the Building Society took back his home.
So, that’s why he sits on a bench in the park
Quietly thinking and dreaming till dark,
And the folks who pass by are just questioning why
He sits there each day with no spark in his eye;
Some think he’s just lazy – a regular shirker,
A benefit-snatcher, a shameless non-worker.
They know not just how much he’d love to regain
His confidence and to be working again.

He now leaves his bench and plods up the street,
Returns to his hostel for something to eat.
He’ll speak to the rosy-faced lady tonight
And pluck up the courage to speak of his plight.
She listens with patience, delighted he’s spoken,
So genuinely pleased that his silence is broken.
She shows him such kindness, compassion and feeling
It brings forth the tears which will start off his healing.
He sobs and he sobs and he pours out his heart
And speaks of the ills which have torn him apart.

I’m thankful for those who always are there
To help without judging and offer their care.
And when I come in from the dark and the cold
To the welcoming warmth of my cosy abode
I now must remember those people alone
Who don’t have that pleasure and cannot go home.

Rita Croft.