Search Website
Close Search Pane
Toggle Menu

Lunch Hour

Lunch hour. The machine halts its drilling
into concrete. The workman folds his body
onto his haunches like an accordion and takes off
his gloves. There: feeling returns to fingers
flexing in cool freedom. They undo chin strap,
remove hard hat and eyewear – now the sun
and the winter wind in his hair and on his skin.

In the corner old Nick kneels before his oiled
wood-box. Yesterday, his birthday; today
the cardboard sign reads only ‘Homeless
Shoe Shine’. Once, he had a dog on a string;
before that, a white-and-orange cat
with green eyes and a too-tight collar.
On a good day, a brown bottle at sundown

and oblivion for breakfast. The workman thinks
about lunch: only the day before he’d stood in line
behind a woman with soft hair who smelled
like flowers. It’s time to get up now, time to let
the blood back into his legs. His hour is running out.
But wait – down the street, a flash of red like poppies
tossing their heads in a field of luminous green.  

View this poem on The Disappearing »

Go to Eileen Chong's profile to read more poems

Poem Video

  • Eileen Chong reads 'Lunch Hour' a poem commissioned by The Red Room Company for The Disappearing. 2012