Our Lady of Anything Will Help

The surface of the abandoned
parking lot is in chunks where weeds
broke through. Dead center, a robin
stands, stretches up, calling loudly,
It looks a little lost. It turns
from side to side, looks around, hops
forward, and calls again, louder.
It keeps calling, hopping, calling.
The sidewalk rattles with a loud
skateboard under some guy who’s gone
almost before you know he’s there.
A woman is sitting crosslegged
right at the edge of the sidewalk,
slumped slightly and smoking the end
of a cigarette. She looks up
before he gets there, and slowly,
warily pulls a lean puppy
towards her, out of the skateboard’s path.
The sleek pooch shifts and settles down
on her worn jeans. She strokes the dog’s
glossy fur, over and over.
A cardboard sign behind her says,
“Anything will help.” A young gal
stops, and bends, passing a packet
of what look like tickets. As hands
reach toward her, she reaches upward
to meet them, then pauses, looking
confused. “Coupons,” the answer comes
unasked. “See, the restaurant’s name
here?,” then draws a line under words
with her finger. “Take them there, and
they’ll feed you.” The older woman
thanks her, and does not say a word
about dogs not being allowed
in there, or that she can’t make out
the name in odd script on the strips.
It will help. She’ll get someone else
to read it to her. She’ll trade them,
get someone else to watch the pup,
or get someone else to go get
the food. It will work out, somehow.
After all, anything will help.

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2 responses to “Our Lady of Anything Will Help

  1. I have talked with homeless people about their lives on the street – makes no sense to be afraid that they will not spend your money on “something good” – a gift should be given without conditions or should not be given

    • A friend of mine from high school has spent a lot of time in homeless advocacy work. I was pleased to see that he clicked like on this post. 🙂 I’m interpreting that as meaning that it was fairly on target. As someone who has spent a lot of time being at risk of being homeless but has never actually been there myself, I have complicated feelings about it.

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