A faint glow dribbles 'neath his door,
and clamours of construction mutter,
bellow and insinuate, his broken voice
belies an old man struggling with a stutter.
He comes and goes in dead of night,
I mark his shuffling pace,
his wheezing terrifies and taunts me,
nervous as I am to peek,
to see this stranger's face.
The sounds persist for several weeks,
relentless, with a purpose,
still I'm reluctant to confront
this man, anxious and desirous.
Then all at once the banging stops,
the faint glow disappears,
I'm left to wonder what he built
'midst stammering and tears.
Overwhelmed with curiosity
I wait for his return,
his latchkey kills my modesty,
his secret soon I'll learn.
Elderly, his shoulders bent,
palms pressed as if to pray,
a penitent upon his knees
with not a word to say.
For in the stark and silent room
an altar is revealed,
intricate and fine beyond compare,
with flowers and still photographs
a child is honoured there.
I took his arm and knelt with him in prayer.
The line stretched down the hallway,
those offering respect,
the passing of a little girl
brought many to reflect.
Copyright © Keith Bickerstaffe