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The Operative

By Gareth Culshaw

The fridges hurt him the most.

When he opened the door and cold

stuck to him like words from a bully

he felt his tongue go cold and his

joints shimmy behind tendons.

Tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines,

kept in boxes or plastic gave colour,

words, numbers to the coldness.

He placed his hands inside,

felt arthritis bristle. He had

bills to pay and a son to bring up.

The fridges hummed a monotone

that didn’t change unless the door

was left open too long. He pulled

down his white hat and thudded

the floor with thick rubber soles.

The shift was as long as he wanted

it to be. His hands cramped up,

and he danced his fingers as if he

was playing the piano. The cold painted

itself onto his skin told him this is what

will happen when he goes six feet under.


My first collection, ‘The Miner’ available now at:

Twitter –

YouTube Channel – Gareth Culshaw Poetry

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