Martin Parker: Forty Years In Purchase Ledgers

Forty years of loyal service
Due to end at five tonight.
Forty years for Frank and Brenda,
Debits left and Credits right.

He with crisp breast-pocket hankie,
Shiny shoes and Sunday best;
She with matching shoes and bag
And floral-patterned crimplene dress
Take the lift towards the Boardroom
On the sacred Seventh Floor,
Its windows facing west to give
The Chairman views towards the moor.

Soon they'll run retirement's gauntlet –
Directors in a fat-cat line,
The Chief Accountant's standard speech,
A chiming clock, a small white wine . . .

Forty years of penny-pinching,
Proper maintenance ignored;
Forty years of ticking time-bomb
Left unheeded by the Board.
In the lift Frank's old foreboding,
Fear of danger's “coulds” and “mights,”
His pounding heart and churning panic –
“Should've walked these fourteen flights.

Forty years of rusting cable,
Forty years of worn-out brakes
Bring the end for Frank and Brenda.
Forty feet is all it takes . . .

Accounts Department, Sunday-suited,
Scatter ashes on the moor.
Left and right, a double entry
On the slope towards the tor
Where Frank and Brenda still together
On their ledger's closing day,
Feel the south-west wind, unheeding,
Blow their final page away.