Wednesday, March 28, 2007

where the sun hits the sidewalk

Every day there's this man on the corner.
Maybe he's in his twenties.
Maybe thirties.
He wears a mustard leather jacket
And a winter hat.
He's black with a face full of freckles.
He stands wherever the sun hits the sidewalk
Very still
Eyes ahead
A block at most from the shelter's door.
I didn't really notice him
Until someone pointed him out one day and
Now I can't stop thinking about him
Epecially today when it's cold out.
I want to give him my scarf
I want to buy him something to eat
Tell him about warm places on campus he could go
Where they'd never notice him
And make him leave
And if they did
About the places he could try next.
In shelters they force you out
First thing in the morning.
Rain or shine.
Warm or cold.
Place to go or not.
And I can imagine what it would feel like
To be locked out on a cold day
And it breaks my heart.
Like the sound of my father's voice did
The day they changed the locks at his office
And how it bounced around inside my ribcage.
Or like those times I lost my mother
When I took up too much
Of the small space we were left to live in.
And there was nothing I could ever do to get her back
But wait outside in the cold
Looking patient
Resilient
Indifferent.
This gnaws at me now while I sit at my desk
As I snack on almonds
Sip water from a nalgene
Combing through research abstracts
Like they mean something.

4 comments:

Lx said...

what'll you do, though, if he tells you to fuck off.
or if you bring him sandwiches and he knocks them out of your hand, angry.

i like the tie-in, the switch at the end.
good piece, you.

Rachel said...

Thanks lx. Maybe he would. That's part of the fear around extending 'the hand', so to speak. And then there's the assumption that he wants help...

I guess you never know if you don't ask.

Cocaine Jesus said...

offer him the sarnie and if he fucks you off then eat the sandwich whilst he watches. at least you tried and the fucked up world we all live in hasn't frozen your heart.

Rachel said...

Ain't that the truth Jesus.