Remembering Those Some Call Homeless
(On the Longest Night)
I walk in silence
For I cannot still the memories
of people lost
This year and in years past
I walk for Jennifer
Her bright blue eyes
searching the face before her
“I love you,” says she
It’s her way of saying goodbye
She is gone now
Of a brain hemorrhage
hit by a truck
No justice there—
The hit-and-run driver has not been found
I wonder: Are the police even searching for him?
I walk for Dave and his friend Burt
Burt always checking on Dave
That one day
Dave would just slip away.
Some say Dave died of too much booze.
I think not.
I think Dave died of a heart broken
–a heart broken long in the past.
I walk, too, for Lance
He called me “Doctor”
I called him “Sir Lance”
He’d lost his Texas twang
but not his Texas way of filling a room
“Doctor, I have a place—a place of my own”
Not long after Lance was gone.
I walk in sadness
Sadness at the violence meeting people I love and who love me
people walking the streets of Albuquerque
(in a way they hold vigil as well)
people who sleep in empty lots or sidewalks they think safe
People met by a concrete block
a truck first revving it’s motor
then running them down
Sadness for families who don’t get to say “goodbye”
some rejected or rejecting
others lost in a fog of shame or drugs or booze
Sadness at the thought of all that might have been
And yet it’s the living whose hearts beat out the rhythm
I follow down the street
William and Chris and Daniel, too,
offering a camp and a guiding hand
ministering to the strangers in their midst
Ruthie and Sara and Jerri finding a home making a way
Hank–he sent me a card not long ago: “Just checkin’ in I’m ok.”
David used to be a regular
‘til he got housed
and shut the door on the demons and the bullies
he met on the streets.
Have I told you—Eddie’s found a home too?
Just last week he told me about his new place
he needed a picture to hang on his wall
Still I see him
filling his plate and settling in across the street
I walk for him and I walk with him, too.
He guides my feet and steadies me—
We’ve become friends—Eddie and me.
That’s why I walk
and why I remember.
a friendship formed on the streets
a friendship that fills my heart with gratitude
for all that has been
all that is
and all that can be.