An old man hoversin the waiting area at midnight
with his small, blue eyes muddied
from years of alcohol and smoke.
I ask him if I can help him
and he opens his mouth, teeth rotting,
breath laced with drink
telling me he needs to talk.
He starts with his worries
no one loves me
nervously touching his face
sickness in his family,
wrongs and rights committed unto others,
love and sadness, old war times,
and how the wife tells him to
SHUT UP you bastard.
Loving words spill from him
about his dead father,
a man always on the
straight and narrow,
a man who spoke line after line
from the Bible in stern tone.
He speaks of his two sisters
both smart and good looking,
accomplished teachers and nurses,
his insignificance apparent,
of their distance (with)in
Plastic covered pictures
flipped, neat faces of children
and grandchildren he never sees,
or holds, run by animated.
He tells me of the time his son
hugged him for no reason,
tears welling in his eyes,
rims red and moist
as he carefully touches
can’t waste what little I have.
I stand there with shades
of (in)difference, thinking of
stories about old beggars
at the roadside whom no one will help
Will work for food
prophets, deities, monks
saints in waiting, testing the fiber of humanity,
testing the soul’s moral fortitude
as I lay my hand on his arm.
Aleathia Drehmer 2007
Published by Poet Plant Press in the anthology "Workbook", 2009