A Monday morning in midwinter.

Walking Charlie the cockerpoo in the park,
John is dancing to get warm in the dark,
He taps away his chills in code,
Fleet of foot and pointy toed.
Freezing breezes fluff his hair,
He hopes he looks like Fred Astaire.

Further over, on the skids,
Jesse’s dealing with the kids,
Unwilling Marlon gets big hugs
(She’s hoping he won’t start with drugs).
Marcy cannot find her hat
How’s it got lost in a two-roomed flat?

Mary’s heading for the shops.
Shuffling, she starts and stops,
The handles of her walking frame
Are cold to touch, but all the same
She’ll reach Mustafa’s, round this bend
With bread, reduced from the weekend.

Egon is checking, in the car
Notes and files and coat and scarf,
Laptop, power pack, bullet point cards
Time check, traffic check, phone and charge.
This is the day (he’s got a hunch)
Several million before lunch.

Abigail flicks through lesson plans
She checks the board, she scans her hands
For germs, for dirt, but still alive
She waits for 4B to arrive,
Coughing, sneezing, running quick
Five colleagues this week, all off sick.

James sits down behind his desk,
He’s really glad to get the rest.
He knows he has digestive woes
Cancerous prostate, a broken toe.
Poking a plastic button with old chilly skin,
‘Nurse Smith, please send the first one in.’

Zoe is waiting by the gutter
Gloved hands, thick boots, heart a flutter
Crossing sign held high and proud
Zoe’s hoping for a crowd.
Twice daily chatter and repartee
Then home alone for silent tea.

Kendal props it under the ledge,
The warm wool carpet, the nice bound edge
The jacquard pattern with a guarantee to it,
Only one factory now, that can do it.
He moves through cold stacks of plastic-based, to open the doors
To customers who like to chuck cheap tat on their floors.

From a store door Les surveys the day,
The early morning pavement is wet, cold and grey.
He counts overnight coins, twenty three –
It might be enough for a sandwich and a tea
To give him the strength to walk down the road
To the charity who may someway, fix no fixed abode.

Millie is excited, it’s a fitting today
Then printing off the tickets, so they can get away.
She smiles in the mirror as she notices the ring,
There is just a tiny niggle – is she doing the right thing?
Ben lies palely uncovered, sleeping off the drinks
If she wakes him he’ll be angry but it’s later than he thinks.

Algernon is creeping round as quiet as a mouse.
A very silent breakfast and then off to the House
Meeting his constituents and voting on a motion,
He drops a knife, he freezes, alarmed at the commotion.
Away from home effective, making all those laws,
Though nothing much will ever touch the rule of her indoors.

Arnie opens the curtains and lets in the day,
It’s nearly ten o’ clock now but it’s still cold and grey.
Hours stretch before him, empty and alone,
It’s too cold to go out walking and he’ll only come back home.
It’s so hot in Australia they all live outside,
Though he hasn’t really heard from Jim since Marilyn died.

Dwayne delivers papers to the houses they are for
Mostly, some on the lawn and a few through the door.
There’s a game he wants that costs quite a lot
When half of what he earns is for the family pot.
He stamps to get warm as the paper shop gets near, though
He thinks he’s a flying interplanetary hero.

Everyone is busy, each in his own way
Bracing for the cold, facing the day.
Waking up to winter but hoping for the sun
And the lighter, longer, easier days that are to come.
Struggling through the dark at the start of the year
In a small northern town in the northern hemisphere.

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