And sometimes curiosity put my hand into his pockets
hanging in the hallway cold but dry.
And the same old things were found there:
empty packets, soft grains and half smoked butts;
occasional scrap paper from a pack of eaten mints,
rarely any loose change, it all gone upon a race.
But though the coat was dry and outwardly quite clean
the pockets had a dank repulsive feel,
not encountered yet in any other place,
that was foreign and faintly sticky
and revolting to the warm soft hand of youth.
The worst thing was the smell
that clung to hand and nose for hours after the deed.
The scent of cheap tobacco clinging to the hand
was so strong it whirled the head and made the stomach churn
and made you see again long fingers browned by smoke
and the way with rare good manners
he doffed his hat to every lady in her turn.