(( This is a poem I wrote quite a while ago, but I was thinking about my post on homelessness and remembered this. I don’t know if it’s finished yet or not, but I still like it.))
Shards of shattered glass and brown paper wings
shared the alley with cans and rotten plastic rings.
The winter sun reflected off the glass.
She was hardly protected from the blast
of the wind’s bite, by a black, thread-bare coat.
Hunched against the brownstone wall, arms drawn close,
tufts of gray hair poked from an old, knit cap.
Haggard face pinched, she shivered as she sat
on a steaming vent. The snow fell again
and her fingertips froze—the gloves were thin.
A junk-jumbled, wire cart formed a crude wall;
shut out those who wouldn’t see her at all.
Surviving here, in the grim, dim city,
alone with her ‘bag-lady’ thoughts, she
cradled a cloth-wrapped bundle to her breast.
Those strangers who shunned her, couldn’t have guessed
that a boy rested inside the soft rags.
Hungry, he cried. The woman searched her bags
for something to feed him, but no food was found.
The snow fell thicker, muting hard, bright sounds.
She’d found the baby near a pile of trash,
abandoned, discarded. “Like me?” she asked.
I noticed the lady, and thought I might
help her. I wanted to make it all right—
I wanted to show her that someone still cared.
But as I approached, she said not a word.
Her tired head slipped down as if in deep sleep,
her arms hugged the baby close, as if to keep
it warm. The heat from her frail body faded fast,
but she had struggled, even as the last,
shallow breath left her lungs. I knelt nearby
on the wet pavement, my clothes warm and dry,
and I wept. The child cried too, like it knew
that the woman had died. That child was you.
You see, Fate or God or something unknown
had brought me that morning, blocks from my home,
down this street I’d never walked before. So,
that’s where I found you, and now that you know,
I’ll show you where your second mother rests.
But there’s one regret, that I would confess:
I wish I could have saved her from life’s harsh pain,
and I regret that I never learned her name.
~ © C.L.R. ~