Fifteen Minutes.

The click of a door.
Heads turn.
A smiling face,
here to do a simple thing well.
Here to heat up chicken soup.
Make tea.
Bring life.
Here to give fifteen minutes
of his youth and eagerness
to two people whose youth is kept
locked away in a faded wedding photograph.
His own needs remain elsewhere.
His name is Joe.

He is here to do a simple thing
which has been taken out of their reach
by the ravages of time.
A ring pull too strong
for a fragile wrist.
A hot pan
too heavy to lift.
An empty kettle
with a lid that sticks.
There is no illness here,
just a slow ebbing away.
A failing.
A loss.

He has looked in the bread bin
and he is worried.
There is bread,
almost a whole loaf,
but it is out of date.
Over a week out of date.
They ask for bread.
They tell him it will be fine.
He is not sure.
He brings the soup without it
and they eat it silently
without asking where the bread is.
He is relieved.

A breezy, “is there anything else you need?”
A scattering of gratitude,
a door clicking shut.
He is gone,
and the life in the room leaves with him.
Empty faces turn back to the quiz show
which glitters and flashes
across the television screen.
She points at the contestant.
“I don’t like him.”
He nods.
No questions are answered.

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