The Woman at the Corner

I noticed you on the corner because you look

just like me, but then I saw your cardboard sign with its

searing words, “Mother of 2, homeless, can’t feed kids,”

and all I could think was your sign was the same color

as my minivan.  And tonight my kids would eat a nice

dinner and sleep in their own comfortable rooms and

play games on the computer and text their friends.  I tried

to look away, but I couldn’t because I saw your eyes, and

they spoke of being broken, and shame covered me

like a spider web.  The stoplight had changed to green,

and I had to move on.  You watched me drive

away, and your head dropped.  My purse sat next to me,

but with no cash, I kept driving, until there were more

drops on my cheeks than on the windshield, and I turned

into the bank, to the ATM, and anxiously pulled $20 out

as the rain fell harder.  Driving back, I feared you would be

gone, and my shame would stay, but you were still there,

sign now on top of your head, on that somber corner, shivering,

waiting.  And I stopped.  I handed you $20, and you whispered,

“Thank you.”  I got in my car, turned up the heat to high,

tried to feel better about that corner, about the spider webs

of shame.  As the wipers swished the rain away, I tried

to picture two kids eating dinner with their mother, but

all I could see was the needle marks running up your arm

as I handed you the damp $20. You will be there

 at the somber corner tomorrow, too.

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