Paper Dance

He walks in and shudders, nerves shuttered
Shattered, reflexes battered
Old, but not frail, but not well.

A disease, its steady onset in his stalking shadow
Huge and inescapable, but he fights it,
His involuntary dancing
With his hobby for brightly coloured birds.

With the power of printed pictures,
A flash of yellow feathered flight against the dark
Lights up his mind; brings a smile for a second.

The Canary News crumples
And rips in his big juddering hands
As his feet stamp and step on the spot.
He jerks and dances away to the till
To buy shreds of scrunched-up newspaper.
Soon his actions will be uncontrollable.
His expressions, like his newspaper, unreadable.

But he fights it, always.
And smiles with me in passing, with a treasure in his hands.
He has his brightly coloured birds.


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