He comes from Sudan
and I taught him, sounding like my mum
that when you’ve finished your food in England
you put your knife and fork together.
then I remember. he hasn’t eaten all day, probably
and though he has been here for a year
there have been other things to learn:
how not to starve
how not to get beaten up
how to forget the journey here
and the reason he made it.
the others around the table
are doing a crossword. or listening,
to the doing of the crossword:
as mysterious as the cryptic.
they lean in, they want to learn.
and the man from Sudan, main course finished
places his knife and fork together.
‘six letters,’ says the Londoner, looking up,
‘shelter, from a storm…’
the answer, tonight, is temporary
but still better than the permanent storm.