Side by side.

‘Distribution of wealth’    Photography Source

On one of those rare beautiful sunny days we get in London, me and mum were out and about. Mum driving and me in the passenger seat. We stopped at some traffic lights and a rubbish truck pulled up alongside us. It reminded me of this poem I once came across, I’m not a huge fan of poetry but there was just something about seeing a regular occurrence explored in such a thought provoking way. It explores the two different extremes we see in society but for a couple of seconds waiting side by side.

Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes.

At the stoplight waiting for the light
nine a.m. downtown San Francisco
a bright yellow garbage truck
with two garbagemen in red plastic blazers
standing on the back stoop
one on each side hanging on
and looking down into
an elegant open Mercedes
with an elegant couple in it
The man
in a hip three-piece linen suit
with shoulder-length blond hair and sunglassed
The young blond woman so casually coifed
with short skirt and coloured stockings
on the way to his architect’s office

And the two scavengers up since four a.m.
grungy from their route
on the way home
The older of the two with grey iron hair
and hunched back
looking down like some
gargoyle Quasimodo
And the younger of the two
also with sunglasses and long hair
about the same age as the Mercedes driver

And both scavengers gazing down
as from a great distance
at the cool couple
as if they were watching some odourless TV ad
in which everything is always possible

And the very red light for an instant
holding all four close together
as if anything at all were possible
between them
across that small gulf
in the high sea
of this democracy.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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