Picking through the charred rubble
the policeman’s hand finds a
ladies hand severed at the wrist
third finger displaying its band of gold and diamonds
now covered in dust.
Just part of his job
he collects the parts
and puts them together in a bag
unable to take his eyes off the hand.
He counts down the time ‘til clocking out,
counts down – three legs, another arm,
portion of skull,
Is that shoe part of the pair from that leg over there? –
Counting down ‘til clocking off time
going home and kissing his wife time
and taking her hand in his
rubbing his thumb over the band of gold
a promise of a lifetime
unable to shake the image of the
hand in the bag
cut short in its prime.
His own hands covered in dust and pieces of
God knows what, ‘til under piping hot water
he washes away the day, the rubble, decay
washes it down, then sits
with his family to
listen to school yard tales
and wife’s stressful job
and drinks it all in.
He sleeps and dreams
starkly in black and white
a splash of cartoon red
wakes with sweat
dripping down his neck
his hand gripping his wife’s in the dark
never able to say
how close he came today to not walking away
not making it through one more day
‘til clocking off time.
© Aisling Doherty