A summer’s morning, a walk to work. A butterfly, a Red Admiral with its broken orange target, flutters to a stop on a greasy shutter. A chippers, shutters down but the main door is open to let out the smell of exploited workers.
A Spar on Dorset Street, a black bin flanked by a pair of pink trainers waiting expectantly for an owner to reassemble herself and reclaim them. The trainers ready to walk on, one foot ever so slightly in front of the other.
Boxing club and flats, neglected by class war, built by the corporation in the far off time when states cared about us. A brown leather headboard awaits collection, one of the few free remaining council services – they collect ‘large household rubbish’ but only fleetingly, guiltily, as if ashamed of their public duties.
The pavements are sticky with black grease that is never washed off except by rain. A stretch of cleaner pavement outside the Student Homes from which tourists spill onto the streets in search of the ‘real’ Dublin and its people. We are fading away, gone into hiding, sleeping in doorways, sleeping on other continents, walking to zero hour contract work from unregulated rental housing we are terrified of losing. Never mind. Go mingle with the other tourists. It’s not your fault.
A boy asleep in the doorway of a bookshop in Temple Bar. A woman inside distressed, on the phone. What to do with your dispossessed fellow human being when there’s a shop to run? At lunchtime, I see him asleep in the next available doorway. Problems shuffled around. It’s not her fault. It’s not his fault.
Outside my office window, an alleyway. Bright blood on a white tissue. New apartments on the other side – curtains, blinds, frosted glass. A drug service cleans up the needles several times a day. More tourists file out of the AirBnB rented apartments. And once every hour, on certain days, a coffee-coloured beauty, throws her keys down to ordinary men. It’s not her fault. Is it his? Whose fault is it?
After work, I get the bus home. I, we smell of sweat and cigarette smoke and mints. A terrifyingly mundane conversation at the back of the bus. A woman and two men looking for rocks and bags and deals over the phone. Pooling money. She has five kids somewhere. She can do sums better than I can, articulate and desperate. It’s not her fault. It’s not my fault.
It’s sweltering but the heaters on the bus blow hot air around our feet. I can’t breathe. Stop the bus, we all need to get off.