The Taxman ~ A Poem

I knocked on the door
And the man answering the door glared
As I asked if a moment could be spared.
When he saw who I was, he pointed at the shore
“Next time,” he yelled, his face red,
“You go over there, rather than get me out of bed.”

I looked over my shoulder towards the sea
And smiled back at him with my professional face.
“I’m not too sure what you expect me to see?”
But his scowl stayed in place.
“You know,” he said, arms crossed in front,
“You go and collect from the beach and the stream,
Then come back here,” he said, his eyes holding a wicked gleam.

He shut the door, so I walked away.
I would come back, now I had reminded him to pay.
Taxes are difficult, I understand,
But it’s simply the law of the land.
I reached the sand, and looked around,
Not too sure how to take a percentage of what I found.
I sighed, my job wasn’t easy or quick,
but I breathed in the sea air, and reached for a stick.

I saw a patch with many stones and sat down,
Still unclear where to start or how.
I found a pebble, smooth with specks of brown.
And another, almost identical, so I put them together for now
A white one, and another, and over there
I saw an almost pink one, so sort them by colour or shape?
Two more with lines, making a perfect pair.
Those grey ones should be taxed by size, I used my tape.

Measuring, sorting, finding more.
I ignored the seagulls laughing, floating
As I shuffled along the shore,
Making sure not to think of the man, gloating.
That I was busy anyone could see:
Ten percent of these, or twenty per pile?
Time was getting on, I wiped my brow, one hand free
And glanced up, making out a shape near the stile.

The voice came to me in the semi-darkness,
“Who are you taxing, who are you charging?
Will you next ask the flowers to confess?
Or expect the birds to calculate their income margin?”
My face glowing, I looked at the sand,
But the shape stayed in place,
So I hid my shaking hand,
Tired of sorting pebbles, hurting of giving them space.

“I’m the taxman,” I shouted back,
“I’m not the one setting the rules or writing laws,
I’m just doing my job, accepting all the flack.
A man like all others, with troubles and flaws.”
But the shape looked at me, quiet and still
And I carried on, “I have my own tax bill.
I’m not exempt, or overlooked.
I have to pay or just like all others, I would get booked.”

“These aren’t yours to tax or control.
You haven’t made them, shaped them or placed them on the sand.
They are Mine, created to let the waves roll
Over them, making music, peaceful or filling the air, like a marching band.
And Mine is the honour.” I felt aware of the awe around me,
The pebbles sliding through my fingers, letting them be.
My heart filled with a sense of righteousness and glory.
And I awoke with a start, realising it was just a story.

Written for Cotswold Scribblers, about the beautiful beach at Doniford Bay.

Maressa Mortimer, April 2024.

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