The Rubbish Collector

On a dark silent Korean city street,
empty of people, cars and buses
an old woman slowly drags her sack.
Her almond eyes are dark as stones
sitting deep in her papery face
above high cheekbones.
She dare not broadcast her age
so dyes her hair black.
She spikes empty wrappers, drink cans,
hamburger boxes with her stick,
emptying it into her sack.

National law retired her at sixty
from the department store.
Her children work in department stores
to raise their own children.
City footpaths are daily crowded
with the stalls of the elderly
hawking fish, fruit, vegetables
t-shirts, bags, and shorts.

This old woman
earns her living
spiking rubbish
on silent streets
at 3 am.

The Rubbish Collector

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