Poems by Patricia Keough Wilson
On Seeing a Homeless Man
Each day Ken, my spouse, and I pray to see people as Jesus sees them,
to have our hearts crack and break open — but when I see the homeless man,
almost hidden under a faded, pink-rose print or checked blanket,
so used and soiled that I cannot tell print or checks,
I am so grief stricken I cannot shake the image from my heart’s eyes.
Tufts of black hair, glimpse of one eye, water bottle at his head,
curled almost in fetal position, on an unyielding hard concrete surface,
He sleeps in the end parking slot at a Raceway Gas station.
If tears would help, I would weep, but I think they would only soothe me, not help him.
I am immobilized, helpless, remembering my cozy, warm bed
and selection of sheets and blankets.
Another homeless man staggers on the scene,
wild eyed, dressed in ragged cut off shorts,
shouting silent sounds of confusion, fear, edge of frenzy.
Don’t take that sleeping man’s water bottle, I think but do not say.
I quell my urge to leave the safety of my car to protect that bottle.
This newcomer with a hint of hidden violence scares me.
He wanders off. I breathe again.
We have just left church;
I want to somehow connect that time of worship
and a good sermon to this scene
but remain frozen within, paralyzed by indecision and insecurity;
tears like ice in my soul. I turn away as we leave
to drive home to Chinese take-out and a good night’s sleep in our Queen size bed.
Somehow that soft comfy bed accuses me as sorrow settles in my soul.