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Sidewalk Patriarch

He appears in the opening
of my front yard hedge,
this homeless man pulling a shopping cart
behind him with careful dignity.

His wild grey beard brings to mind patriarchs and prophets;
I watch with growing intrigue as he abandons the cart
to cross to the other side of the street to retrieve its twin,
equally laden with the treasures of his shrunken, grubby world.

His dignified bearing stirs me as my gaze absorbs
the determined set of his shoulders
the faded glory of his once expensive suit coat,
as worn and colorless as a child’s homework page
with too many erasures.

Suddenly I am darting inside to grab my purse,
anxious to gift this gentleman (for so he seems to me)
with the $11 I am able to scrape together.
I dash back outside, the crumpled bills
digging into my palms.


He stops his slow pace, turns his majestic head, and flashes
a guileless smile. His eyes are bluer than the sky;
they remind me of treasured marbles I collected
back when I was a kid.

“Here,” I say awkward and gawky, all but shoving the bills at him.
“I want you to have this.”

He looks at the money in my hand and his face lights up
with pure delight.

“Why thank you, Madam,” he says, with old fashioned gallantry
leaning towards me to accept my humble offering.
Much to my astonishment he bows, making a sweeping movement with his arms. When he straightens I see tears in his eyes.

“God bless you,” he says shyly,
chuckling as his old body plods into motion
pushing a cart before him and pulling one from behind.

I watch his slow progress down the sidewalk,
deeply moved, blinking back tears of my own
realizing that I, who so longed to bless,
have been graced with a blessing all out of proportion
to my measly offering of crumpled bills.

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Sometimes you can’t help but wonder if you’ve just had an encounter with an angel unawares.


  • Jenifer DeBellis
    Jenifer DeBellisover 2 years ago

    What a great testimony. xox

  • Matty B. Duran
    Matty B. Duranover 2 years ago

    This is wonderfully descriptive! You richly captured the humanity of that gentleman who was homeless. You gave him dignity and respect! This is to The Glory of God, when someone feeds, clothes, and meets some need of someone who is in desperate need of help! Thank-you! TO THE PRAISE AND GLORY OF JESUS CHRIST!

  • Thanks Jenifer!

    – Beautifuldreamer

  • Matty B. Duran
    Matty B. Duranover 2 years ago

    (His worker)

  • I so appreciate your kind words, and the featuring of my little poem.

    – Beautifuldreamer

  • kenroome
    kenroomeover 2 years ago

    “For wasn’t the point
    that stories, like love,
    are spelled out on the skin, against loss?” Jane Hirshfield
    Your writing offers the thing most desired and often cruelly withheld in this world’s life…respect.

  • Thank you Ken for your kind comment.

    – Beautifuldreamer

  • Soozan
    Soozanover 2 years ago

    Not only did you honor the humanity in the man but, by blessing the blest, you honor that which God placed in your heart as well. Keep sharing the faith, Sister, keep showing the light. God bless you.

  • You too Sooz!

    – Beautifuldreamer

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