As a child
the crunch of boots
on frozen snow
made me laugh, filled with joy.
This dark, frigid night,
was warmed earlier with soup,
at the shelter.
But not allowed to stay,
too violent is how they identify me.
They did tell me to be careful,
the windchill, they said, is minus 40.
Here, in this alley, scrapped by city plows
down to bare pavement,
huge piles of snow, on either side,
are like arms, arms too distant to embrace.
I ache to be embraced.
Cannot remember when last that was.
No crunching of snow underfoot now.
Even if the alley were snow covered,
worn running shoes would make no sound.
They do not protect my feet, which are freezing.
I tremble, shake violently really, from cold and pain.
If you find this and notice the words are wavy, and spotted
it is I shake and the blood on my fingers,
is sticky on this pencil
I found with this cardboard in a dumpster.
Let me tell you it was not the blade entering
my body which hurt.
It was when it was pulled out that I spasmed,
as if molten metal had been poured into the wound.
Why was I attacked and stabbed?
Because they found me alone and because,
though each of us on these streets is already
a gaping wound because of our history,
in our anger, in our hopelessness, in our despair,
we wound each other anew.
God, I am some cold. I hurt.
I seem to have known You long ago when I was a child.
Do You remember me, see me, hear me?
Are You there?
Are You here?
So cold, such pain, one more line, then I must lie down, rest.
So, if you have found this, remember me.
Once I had a name but have forgotten it.
[In memoriam for a young man found frozen to death in this city. His name remains unknown.]
© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph