The grey man on the train

A poem inspired by a rather grey man in the Southern Trains. 

A grey man sits opposite me on the train.
He looks old and tired; tired from a lack of sleep due to his persistent chesty cough.
Tired of life.
His wife tells him every morning without fail to go to the doctors:
“You’ve had that cough for months!”
But the grey man pushes aside her nags, muttering to himself:
“All they’ll do is write me a prescription for more than we can afford or tell me to hang in there.”

The grey man looks like he’s on his way to work:
Briefcase bursting at the locks; a wrinkled shirt buttoned to the top under his thick, winter coat.
He looks like he should be back in bed, stretching himself awake from a good night sleep.
Note: his throat feels warm and at ease with the absence of that pesky, persistent chesty cough.
He stretches out for the cup of tea his dear wife made him just minutes before.
Little Alfie comes bounding into the bedroom, yapping through the cosy bubble of solace with this mornings post and newspaper.

The grey man starts to work on his pride and joy: the garden.
The plants need to be moved inside the greenhouse so they don’t die in the autumnal freeze.
Gloves on, patchwork scarf wrapped tight around his neck and over his mouth.
He gets to work, filling the wheelbarrow and transporting the plants to their new home.
“Super time!” His wife calls from the kitchen window.
He sighs and smiles to himself at the thought of home made chicken soup and bread.
He takes off his gloves and makes his way into the warm arms of his home.

That would be the life; the dream.
But instead the grey man sits on the train this morning;
His head tilted into the nape of his neck;
His wonky glasses balancing precariously on the end of his nose as he has a little snooze.
Dreaming.
His hands clasped around a hard back book: Winter Care for Plants.