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  • Lorraine Johnson

[83] Gnarled

To the side of my door, he would come.

His young face gnarled with piercing eyes and burned out skin,

that's what, today, floats to the top—each day by the side of the car he would come.

Same traffic light, same outstretched hand, hardened heart and bouncing feet,

as he went from car to car looking for coins or a note of green.

Windows rolled up high to an untrusted and angered face, as the many passed on by,

and no one stopped to ask—But how? Does your face have a smile deep inside? Can we take time to talk a while?

Until one day I leaned in as I have done so many times before, with others who appeared at the side of my door—a glance, a smile and hello—recognizing humanity and potential in the thick of it all.

Anger rolled off his burning tongue, and indeed there was no time to 'talk a while,' as the light turned green and no short words to say, as the wheels carried me and my child away, tucked in the back all safe and sound he was, with not a single mark on face nor angered eyes, or outstretched hands.

Many years have passed, yet his gnarled face still lags deep in the crevice of memories stored in my heart, alongside other faces showing up with lives untold, potential unknown, and no hand to hold—

as the sun rises and sets on the unfairness of it all, I breathe deeply into the grace of my own child's face and the gratitude felt deep, deep in my soul—as I remember to lean in, yet again, each time humanity and potential appear at the door.


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