I see before I’ve time to turn
His sagging form, and sign;
Will work for food, but we both know
It’s cash he hopes to mine.
In seconds, we default to roles,
To scripts each knows by heart.
And both will be uncomfortable,
But each must play his part.
I do not let my eyes meet his,
Lest he should see my heart.
Or worse yet, that I peer at his
And find compassion start.
No time for stories or for names,
We’ve both got stuff to do.
You say your line, then I’ll say mine;
The dance will soon be through.
I need some gas, some food, a room,
A place my kids can stay.
His edge, he knows, is tears or guilt,
My rush to slip away.
He’ll waste the cash, of that I’m sure,
So I could host a meal,
But I don’t have the time or grace;
Instead, I’ll cut a deal.
Here’s twenty bucks to move along
So I can get back home.
Now he and I are both relieved
The awkward dance is done.
He mumbles thanks and I return
God Bless You, by the script,
But both of are vaguely sure
That something human slipped.
I’ve read the mission books and know
That helping sometimes hurts,
But spending time is just too hard
Now even if it works.
A moment rose to change the lines,
But comfort pulled me more,
So distance and its poverty
Surged stronger than before.
And as I walk the streets again,
One day I’ll get a chance,
To get a name and make a friend,
Or hurry through the dance.
[Feature Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash.com]