A family recipe, a childhood memory, a Depression-era handout
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When I passed you on my way home
I didn’t think about you
nor feel a hairsbreadth of sympathy.
I was talking about someone at work,
how she’d pissed me off in an e-mail.
“She’s so curt,” I think I said.
It wasn’t until hours later
while looking at the sky,
a sky whose size unsteadied me,
that I started thinking of you,
you and others like you,
all the human beings on this planet
the hundreds, thousands, millions. . . .
How incomprehensible, I thought,
standing there on my covered porch
while you stood on one leg
on a traffic median,
hungry and homeless
in a ruined side of Baltimore
in the pouring rain.