The traffic light turned red. This time, I could not avoid the person standing at the corner. In his spot night after night. I pulled over in a knee-jerk, impulsive instant. I looked at the once handsome man, hiding beneath the desperation and guilt of unlucky circumstance. I noticed the man with razor-sharp blue eyes, scraggly gray beard and sorrow stamped across his crinkled forehead. He immediately looked down when I approached him. His shame would not greet mine. I saw a man who’d been beaten. He wore only a ripped plaid shirt and stank ridden, dirty blue jeans. It was Autumn, not quite freezing but cold enough to bite. I saw a man without a coat, so I gave him mine. It wasn’t anything fancy, picked it up at the Salvation Army. Cargo, military grade. I like my coats to have weight, buy men’s most of the time. He hesitated, I placed the jacket delicately on the cold pavement. I noticed he wore weathered combat boots without laces or socks. I took off my cowboy boots, removed my Wal-Mart heavy woolen socks and set them on top of the coat. I didn’t mind. I didn’t mind at all. I’d come this far, figured I’d give him my jeans too. They were big and baggy, I don’t like my clothes tight. He was more embarrassed than I. Mortified that I stood half-naked in my boy shorts Gap underwear. He stepped in front of me, instinctively shielding the googly eye glares of ignorance, the tooting horns as they drove by. I didn’t mind being exposed. I had a warm car to climb into waiting curbside. Passersby noticed me, 6′ foot almost naked, they didn’t bother to notice him. I saw him. I couldn’t help but see him. We are not so different, he and I. Someone noticed me once. Yes, they sure did. I did not mind at all.
What I Saw
Published in POETRY & PROSE