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Passing Her By

Barbara Mitchell

Passing Her By

frail and pathetic
she sat on a broken stool
guarding the street corner
and I thought
here is someone I can help
but her nails wore the debris
from many days of scavenging
and they clutched a tattered blanket
tied with a string around her waist
and I thought i might offend her
dressed in high heeled shoes
and sunday best
and I turned my eyes the other way
as I sidled past
looking in store windows ignoring her
and I knew i had added yet another dent
to her battered self esteem
as she wondered silently
why someone dressed as fine as I
would rather look in cold windows
than simply walk by
and say hello


His lips now mouth absurdities
laying claim to things that might have never been
and in these loud and garbled voicings
only I can hear the familiar rhythm of his love

for i know that once
when I was young
his words were kind and chosen with care
lending direction to one who was insecure

His eyes now dim with sight
hold but a cloudy vision of scenes from long ago
and in these fractured fancies
only I can see the sketching that was fashioned for my life

for I know that once
when i was young
his eyes mirrored a sharper image
of things i could become

His limbs now weak with trembling gait
flail helplessly seeking release from days now etched in pain
and in these feeble gestures
only I can feel the strengh and nerve

for I know that once
when i was youngthese very hands carved patterns in my life
and held me suspended in the wrappings of tender love

The very man he was
seems but a shell to you
but i tell you
everything I am
lies pressed within his heart
and i will gladly anoint him with gentle hands
cradle him with care
until weary from the echo of twilights calling
he slips easy
into God’s waiting embrace

I will love him
even after