He criticised me
for the name I would
not reveal, hand I would
not offer, so much
more fastidious
than I had been in
youth when I took the
half-smoked cigarette
out of a street-
drinker's mouth to
light it in my own before
passing it back
(his hands too wobbly
to strike the match),
not out of compassion
but because I did
not give a fuck,
being numb as I was
when, with indifference
more shameful than
fear, I left the
old man to get beaten
up in the market: I
wondered afterwards
if I would have
intervened if either
he or his assailant had
been white.