Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 3, 2009

Today I passed a homeless man
begging for some change.

As he reached up and unwashed
hand, I held out my plump, well-fed
fingers and told him, "I'm sorry."

If someone were to have finished
my apology, they might have added:
"I have no change"
"I don't carry cash"
"I don't have any money either."

Knowing I had four unnecessary
dollar bills shaved precariously into
my easy to reach jeans' pocket, I knew
that my sorry was different.

I should have, as I tell my students to do,
finished the thought.

I'm sorry that I don't think of you
as fully human.
I'm sorry that I'm scared when
you rock like that.
I'm sorry that I'm nervous when
I hear you mumble.
I'm sorry that somehow i think you're
telling secrets about me.
Secrets you shouldn't know
Secrets I never told you.

I'm sorry that the embarrassment
I ahve for your condition precludes me
from taking even a small step towards
pulling you up from that piss-soaked concrete,
dusting you off, and making you feel whole again.

I'm sorry I just assume you don't feel whole.

And as I continued, several blocks form
the first, I saw another derelict,
this one younger with a small dog
under the shelter of his bended knees.

Without prompt I gave him the money
I had and told him to "take care."
The dog, the money, the heavy sky.

And though he wasn't the first
somehow I walked away resolved,
like the feeding of one is the
fullness of another,

like they are redwoods of coral reefs,
some giant organism
occasionally pushing up through
the carpet, reminding us of the
eternal and overwhelming
presence beneath.