Asking and Not Receiving

By Ellen Jurgens, TIWP Student

He stands on the corner.

People speed past him,
careful to avoid eye contact.
They have what he needs.

He waits and waits.
Does he feel anger?
Is he angry with them or with himself?

He holds a cardboard sign across his chest.
It shields his heart from piercing stares.

Stares of disapproval,
of disappointment,
of detestation.

They wonder about him,
there are no complexities in their thinking.

They are sympathetic,
but their hesitance impedes all direct action.

They believe their sympathy is enough
to protect any tarnishing of their own morality.

They are afraid of him.
Yet he is so powerless and they are so powerful.
He is so hopeless and they are so hopeful.

Hopeful that others, not themselves,
will stop to give him what they have,
what he needs.

But others are hopeful, too.
Hopeful that others, not themselves,
will stop.

He lets down his shield,
unprotected from his society’s judgment.
He walks under the freeway, for it is dark,
and he must prepare for another day of
asking and not receiving.

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