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Fitting the bill

Unbelievably, this encounter actually happened - in the early 1950s. The young man lived with us for several years, and his family gave us many useful gifts during those lean times. He also introduced me to Chinese culture...

The man reached the post-box mere seconds before us.

Dad began wheezing and pulled up his scarf.

The wind felt so icy, and daylight was fading -

Our man began posting a blue-covered card.

It wasn't a card but some small air-mail letter,

Greetings, no doubt, to his friends overseas.

Then he stopped, half-sighed, and crumpled the letter.

Our young man was well dressed and seemed very pleasant.

Chinese, I thought, if somewhat too tall.

Now snow began falling - bleaching the post-box.

I thought of the lights in our small, festive hall.

Dad patted the man, who seemed close to tears

And learned that he had been turned from his digs

With nothing to eat - no one to contact -

Urgently seeking somewhere to live.

He said his case contained papers and letters to prove who he was.

'Cheer up, young chap, things have now become better.

If you go home with us, it's not far down that hill,

I'll speak to my wife, then you show her your papers -

We all might just fit each other's bill'.

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