Friday, August 03, 2007

"Tell Me" (A poem about a homeless person that is all of us)

I love this poem.

Reminds me of sitting at Moe's Bagels in downtown Denver yesterday, 7 feet from a homeless man wearing a New York Knick's winter jacket, and drinking soda out of a Starbuck's plastic cup. I thought,
"This man and I were created by the same benevolent God. Why does he sit on the ground? Why do I sit in a chair? What is it like to ask for money from strangers? I wonder if he struggles loving himself? What are the choices or decisions of his day? How does he decide to sit here, or where to go next? What does it feel like when someone turns their head away from him? Can he feel the love I have for him?"

I watched him stand, and then had to laugh at his re-arranging of his gear. Namely, the very public way he tugged at his underwear. I thought,
"Yes, when I've sat in a space for a long while, things ride up my ass, too."

God made both of us. All of us.

Poem: "Tell Me" by Anne Pierson Wiese, from Floating City: Poems. © Louisiana State University Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Tell Me

There are many people who spend their nights
on the subway trains. Often one encounters
them on the morning commute, settled in corners,
coats over their heads, ragged possessions heaped
around themselves, trying to remain in their own night.

This man was already up, bracing himself against
the motion of the train as he folded his blanket
the way my mother taught me, and donned his antique blazer,
his elderly, sleep-soft eyes checking for the total effect.

Whoever you are-tell me what unforgiving series
of moments has added up to this one: a man
making himself presentable to the world in front
of the world, as if life has revealed to him the secret
that all our secrets from one another are imaginary.

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