We arrive sleepy and bent - a crumpled wad of desire for something new. These wet hot streets - a vistors reckoning - grief. But that is what you carried here my dear - packed neatly in your bags - folded, creased, alert. I tried to find the thing that made London her own. But, belonging to everyone and spread so densely through street upon alley upon court with flesh, she's a union of nations at once - scurrying about in search. The homeless prefer, it seems, to sleep in broad daylight beside a riot of words. There are no shoes, a tired beard, an altar of water bottles left at his feet. I thought about quitting marriage when I couldn't summon joy - as if London should ring that old bell back into awakening. But it was dinner time again - and every other door an open mouth for feeding. So we dine so we sleep so we rise once more and when you say good-bye i love you at last.
at union square
i always carry tiny wads of cash
to give to men in doorways
for whom no doors are open.
they are always much too gracious
considering the cold
and the ridiculous wonder
that while i was enjoying the theatre
they were begging for heat.
i am embarrassed sometimes
for how much i have.
2 healthy boys a husband
my friends a job
there are not enough ones or fives or even twenties
to make the kind of difference
where you are no longer alone
or hungry or cold.
and i am no longer looking for someone to feed.
dear santa, please bring home: food for the hungry shelter for homeless solace for the grief stricken our country's sanity and a set of tree lights that lasts longer than a year.
the rain is back - this time like a drunk American packing through France with some embarrassed Canadians. puddles are deep, people can't drive. only because of garage sales - and some vintage couture i couldn't resist - i donned my first umbrella today, like a boss. what a ridiculous improvement - this whole keeping dry out in the rain - it just never occurred... i saw a pile of a person under the freeway today - covered in sleeping bags but still sitting up - that and a small mound of cigarette butts. no arms or legs or head. just blankets and wet and butts. and me with my stupid umbrella.
i used to think there was so much beauty in the tragic - or such tragedy to be found in beauty - and now i realize everything, really, is just a stepping stone either towards or away from divine compassion. Off highway 5 at Livermore today, a lady held a sign on the overpass "I bet you can't hit me with a quarter." I gave her twenty dollars and pleaded please don't let anyone hit you with a quarter. she spilled a broken tooth smile and crossed herself and i could see in her eyes exactly who she was when she was eight. my husband asked don't i ever worry people will just use my alms for drugs? no, i told him, i only care that for a second they have hope - that they feel worthy of something. i have heard a lot of addicts speak about a "moment of clarity" - and never did the story take place while meditating in some cave somewhere. That twenty dollars may not have changed her life but she changed mine.
i took a break today from caring too much. ate grilled cheese and onion rings at the same meal - mixed the colors and whites in the washing machine - turned off the ringer on a work day. i asked once, when the sun hit my cheek - as if it were July and not November - how to be useful, even in the midst of trying not to care. there was never a time when i did not feel lucky. i like to watch people come and go in a certain hurry - as if they too could forget the things that really matter. it's impossible though, to take your heart outside of something. it just stands there beating "i see you" "i see you" "i see you."
today is the end of something. we all know that, holding our breaths, hoping we win. and i am thinking about the other people, who aren't thinking about elections and polls and emails and pussy. the ones who are looking for an empty doorway or a couple hits left on a butt in a gutter or something warm. i am not thinking about them because i am good but because i am sorry. i am so very sorry.