Litter Man

He’s here again, in navy waterproofs,
black and orange litter picker,
leaning into the hedge,
with the crunch of an empty lager can drawing back,
dropping it into his glistening black bag,
which bulges with chip trays, flattened cider bottles,
the football we abandoned for lost.

We see him doing strange things;
hauling pallets from the brook and smashing them,
bumping a traffic cone along the stony path,
collecting remote controlled cars, doll heads, porn mags,
clearing the fire where we burnt our exercise books.

Sometimes he mutters curses.
We catch him mumbling to flowers or trees.

We wonder if he has a home
or somehow came with this place.
If so, why does this place
have a Litter Man when others do not?

Sometimes we huddle together and dare one another…
“Go and ask him if he’s the Litter Man.”

Finally, I draw the short straw, approach
on tentative legs, heart pounding.

He’s squatting down, pulling
the slithering remains of a hosepipe
out of the mud, reeling it
into the fathomless domain
of his black bag.

I imagine his face;
lank beard, crooked teeth.
He has one blind eye, no doubt,
and will be smiling
when he stuffs me head first
into his sack with the rest of the rubbish.

Trembling, I squeak “excuse me,
are you the Litter Man?”

He turns…
I see the face of a woman
no older than my mother,
no whiskers, moustache,
missing eyes or teeth.

I flee. “Run!
You will never believe
what I’ve seen!”

Litter Picker


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