A Random Act…

At the stroke of one
He saw the men emerge
And gather in the fresh air
Coughing, squinting and gasping

He kept time as they washed
The black from their hands and face
And sat in the clean dirt
To eat their meals

Their words and laughter reached him
Some spat too, others cursed
And then they all looked at him
And he at the time

He saw the hand tick over
But the whistle in his mouth
Remained bereft of air
Longer than usual