Bottle Bank by Helen Pletts

Bottle Bank
A lean trousered scrabble;
Pressed aside the green-breast-curve, toe-tipped
Arched form a-gape reaching,
A jagged white slit creases the cheek;
And the human bright-blue-eye
Echoes love lost, the pricelessness of heart;
Scattered, like the glass shards
You hopelessly filter. Your stick twists
But it won't stretch, nor grasp without prehensile
Tendency, the bottle's neck.
• Helen Pletts was born in the UK but has lived in Prague in the Czech Republic for the last four years. She says “My experience of living here has provided me with most of the inspiration for my current writing. The man I wrote the poem about is still alive, although he seems to always be drunk. He leans in to the bottle bank to get the bottles that may not have smashed on their way down – tries to retrieve them with his stick – then takes them to the supermarket for the returns money. I thought he would perish the winter I first saw him doing this – either from falling in head first, or from the extreme cold – minus 20+ on some days (winter 2005) so I gave him some money – this was right at the point I looked closely into his eyes and realised that he was struggling with something else maybe – the something else that had driven him to trying to drink himself to death. His eyes were the most incredible blue. I couldn't get home fast enough to write the poem.”

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