7:15 am, biking by a bus stop
He is curled heavy on the lowest step
scratching his face with fingers
more paw than hand. A compulsory,
unconscious movement and relief
I am irrevocably reminded of a cat
from my childhood, so old, so
old that her skin was too dry to endure
and she would scratch, scratch until
she tore right through (seeking what
peace might lie on the other side).
This man's face is raw and red now
and bearded from what portion I can see.
The rest of him hunches against the
concrete stair, his knees in torn denim
splayed out in a way that makes my knees hurt,
a vodka handle, not quite empty, cradled
against his crotch, one hand
loose around the neck.
Next to him stand two remarkably clean girls,
fresh, waiting for the bus.
One is plugged in, music coursing in thin wires
to her ears, fingers frantically
swiping and flittering across a glowing screen.
The other has her arms loosely crossed,
and stares resolutely ahead.
july 2014, copyright Sarah Hirsch
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All works are original and copyright Sarah Hirsch, 2017. Please contact me directly if you would like permission to use any images or words. Thank you!
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