What separates us are painted
lines, drawn across thick asphalt.
You, standing on a street corner,
your hunger held between both hands
and scrawled across cardboard.
Me, sitting in a car I can’t afford,
listening to NPR, waiting for
the traffic light to change.
Moving coordinates on the map,
we sometimes collide like this—
our paths intersecting along the roadway.
What separates us
is a short distance between curbs—
the paved road I’m driving and
the graveled space beneath
the underpass where you sit.
That I might hunger food is unlikely
upon this road where you sometimes live
and work the corners.
I possess what is cast from the mold
from which I emerged, wanting
for neither food nor shelter,
neither clothes nor shoes.
My hunger is relative.
A need for more than the paltry sum
of being alive and surviving, it is bent
to the shape of my shame for breathing
in and out and still living.
What separates us is my car’s glass window,
through which we observe one another,
not unfriendly or friendly in our mutual gaze,
but a casual assessment of the other.
You are hungry,
and I am hunger.
We are close enough to speak,
but we don’t.
© Ami Mattison
Flickr photo courtesy of zen
For One Stop Poetry's One Shot Wednesday