The Coal Merchant

‘Here have some coal?’
The need to blink was gone,
Residual black dust caked his jaded tear ducts.
The ability to cry was gone.
Carbon based rheumatism racked his body with pain,
Sedimentary relationships litter the strata of his life.
Three decades of inhaling his own sulphurous wares,
Each cancerous breath he takes warms the lives of others.
Thirty years of lonely streets result in a coal-faced existence.
One day a black cat followed him, providing feline assistance.
His bleak days were spent a’ peddling fuel to light their fires,
His name was never known until he heard the holy choirs.
Graphite stained fingers stroke the fur between her useless ears,
Rudimentary relationships between man and beast are a means to and end.
Three decades of isolation built on the off cuts of a dying industry,
Each roaring fire he supplies masks the irony of his cold, bleak reality.
The need to breathe was gone,
Inflamed black lungs collapsed by fossilised body parts.
The ability to live was gone.
Every sound he utters is a question.
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