Every day there's this man on the corner.
Maybe he's in his twenties.
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
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
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.