The Fabric is Thin

‘I saugh today a cors yborn to chirche
That now, on Monday last, I saugh hym wirche’
Chaucer, ‘The Miller’s Tale’

The woman is waiting,
Leaning against a brick wall.
Her dress is green and
made of cheap, thin fabric.
It flutters around her knees and
though stretched tight
across her heavily pregnant stomach
still finds enough slack to ripple in the breeze.

He walks on the pavement
wearing a tweed jacket, herringbone stitched.
His boots are old but were expensive when he bought them.
He walks past a notorious mosque,
young Muslims spill out onto the street.
He is unintimidated…blasé.
An old instinct makes him aware of
the two men moving parallel to him, on the road.
One walks, the other rides a bike,
The wheels turn slowly.
They stay level for fifty, a hundred, two hundred yards.
Then they split-
The cyclist bursts ahead, onto the pavement.
The other man slows, ghosting behind him.
He stops, kneels down and unties and reties his boots,
cursing his choice of clothes… so ostentatious!
The ghost passes by him and says nothing,
He rejoins the cyclist and they disappear around a corner.
The booted man turns back,
He walks and walks, trying to find a safer road.

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