these men & women are a frequent sight on the streets of Korea. i have been told mixed reasons for their collecting: some do it for a few extra pennies, some because they’re bored, some because they need to; all of them are pushing on in age & stride & never smile.
the cardboard box collector
in residential streets or mandibular shops,
but mostly in slim alleys fed up with rubbish
& fenced in from above by cables,
an old man, fault lines like a geographer’s thoughts
in his face & hands which tremble, skin like a dead moth
due to a superfluity of ultra-violet rays,
collapses & loads cardboard boxes.
stacks them on his hand cart, which grows
like a pannier of fungus on a rotten piece of wood,
for a little extra money or maybe he’s just bored.
& people with plugs for hands take no notice
of how painful his scoliosis must be,
take no notice of how they may be like him one day,
take no notice of how tired he must be
of watching the hot asphalt all day long
: he couldn’t raise his eyes up even should he wish.
they only keep an eye open for the nearest socket
so they can fade from the unnecessary sun.
(photograph by me).