In The Lap of A Stranger

I read about the people who died during the Houston Rita evacuation that I had been caught in last week. It’s very sad. Then later as I was driving to the doctor’s office, I heard this poem on the radio and it linked me to the thousands of kind deeds done for strangers by strangers during the evacuation. Hearing the poem on the air, it interpreted the news I’d just read and I felt a sense of wholeness.
Poem: “In the Lap of a Stranger” by Karen Whalley, from The Rented Violin. © Ausable Press, 2001.

“In the Lap of a Stranger
A young man is bending
Over an old man
Lying on a street corner
At the busiest intersection
Of the city.
Homeless or drunk, I can’t tell which,
But there are hundreds of us passing
And only one man stops,
Cradles that dirty head
Between his knees.
It’s the soles of the shoes
Turned up that make me want
To turn away—so small!
The feet pointing like arrows
Straight up and motionless,
And the crosswalk box’s little man
Walking in his mechanical way,
As if on a treadmill,
And the man not walking,
Not getting up.
When the light changes,
We all drive through,
Going forward into appointments,
Shopping and errands like a future,
Choosing the crispest head of lettuce
At the grocer’s, which will taste
Particularly sharp tonight.
Glad for awhile it wasn’t us
Saying our goodbyes
To our one and only life, in public,
In second-hand clothes,
Easing through the ethers
Into the afterlife
From the lap of a stranger
We’ve probably made late.

am

NOTE: If you found my article helpful, I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe below for updates (I'll email you new essays when I publish them).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *