It Could Have Been Me

man kneeling on the streetI was the one who noticed him first,
We were strolling along, just talking;
Of course we had good reason to stare,
The crab like way he was walking.
Not to be rude, we’d never be that,
We’re far too respectful and caring.
Only concern made us gawp like we did,
For we’re always so giving and sharing.
On his face there shouted a livid wound,
A splatter of blood on the front of his shirt
And a graze on each hand, tears in his jeans,
Scuffs on his boots; this man, he was hurt.

Too far away to smell his breath,
We kept our distance, much safer there.
“Drunken lout,” we heard someone snipe,
They only echoed our thoughts, to be fair.
On bended knees he rocked back and forth,
Mumbling and muttering words of no sense.
People walked by barely turning their heads,
Just turning up noses and taking offence
At the sight of the wretched, drunken, sot,
For that’s what we all assumed him to be;
But today I have this sickened heart, for
To make such assumptions, just who are we?

I’ve lain on pavements so cold and hard,
In the dimmest, darkest, dazed confusion,
Seen outlines of faces bearing down
And prayed the eyes were just a delusion.
“My dignity is precious to me,” I scream
In my mind, but I have no speech.
“I am not drunk, it’s help I need,
Please hold out your hand for me to reach.”
The man we saw on the street today
May not have my problem, well that may be;
But I hang down my head in utter shame
Because that could have been me.

Copyright © 2002 Christine Magee • All rights reserved.