I need to tell you about the old man sitting cross-legged on the cracked
concrete outside the Life building lifting drowning
ants out of a puddle with a broken bit of a fallen oak branch.
I am standing in the rain watching him save an ant’s life
while I’ve been crushing it under my feet
this whole week. I’ve never been more careful walking home.
On my way back from the grocery store,
I am stiff shoulders and clenched teeth from the weight
of bags of orange juice and chocolate croissants
and the tight whip of winter wind cutting into my eyes.
I savor rushes of warm apple pie air escaping
from the open Doughgirls door and then I see
a man hunched between the gap between the bakery
and the chocolatier using a towel as a blanket.
My feet carry me past him before I know to stop but
something is crawling out of my throat and I’m –
coughing, fists clenched, tears dripping down
my nose into my open mouth and they taste
like the queen-sized bed that I only sleep on half of.
They taste like the hazy smell of half rotten apples
the grey-haired lady picks out of the Blenz Coffee garbage can,
like nickels and dimes ringing in tin cans catching
the moonlight on the rare days that it does not rain.
The fluorescent stars meet my eyes when I turn
my head to the sky, hands together in prayer
for all the people I do not know
how to save.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash