2014/01/16

Sentinels of the Street

The garbage bins in my street
stand to attention on Monday morning,
dressed in uniform mission green,
out there on parade in neat rows,
one metre from the kerb.

They stand perfectly still;
with straight backs, proud posture;
not as attractive as those Dalek compost bins —
a sore point that causes some upset —
but steadfast nevertheless
in their resolve to be
Sentinels of the Street.

If garbage bins could talk, what stories could they tell?
Who in the street under cover of darkness
placed garbage in the neighbour’s bin the night before?
Who in the street is most wasteful?
Who puts batteries and paint in their bin?
Who drinks too much alcohol?
The clink of bottles dobs them in.
Whose household is into
kinky things?

No matter what the weather,
the Sentinels of the Street stand to attention.
Like worshippers at a Sunday service,
they await deliverance —
to be lifted up on high —
exultation via a garbage truck,
a ‘Gloria in Excelsis’,
for their week’s work is done.
But the jubilation quickly subsides
as the parade is dismissed
and the Sentinels return to their usual posts
with a deep emptiness inside —
timely now for them
to start their work again.

Garbage bins: they shelter
what we reject, house
what we disown, with no
discrimination or complaint —
just simple acts of charity and love.


Elio Novello (Western Australia)

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