Awakening…Posted: November 7, 2012
The rumbling of a motor
crashing of metal
is the first thing I hear.
Listening is not pleasant,
hearing is not a choice.
Isn’t it too early?
Isn’t it too early to wake?
Stretch, tiptoe to the window
on cold wood floor and see
a mass of motored metal,
a man lifting plastic bins
of discarded wine bottles,
cereal boxes and junk mail,
his brown gloves,
knit cap, jacket zippered
against the chill of the morning
up so early working
his children snuggled still in bed,
his wife in her robe, eyes half closed
making him coffee,
off into the day he goes,
my wake-up call and carting away
the reusable waste of our day
all in a day’s work,
rumbling down the street
as I stretch and sip tea
and hope to be
I wrote this poem this morning, so between this and the previous post you can read how even earlier today I was reflective and searching for my little place and purpose in the world. Sometimes small purposes are handed to us.
I had an errand to run for one of the places where I volunteer. It was in a rough area, the kind of area where you don’t want to walk alone even in daytime. Afterwards, I was walking toward the parking lot when a young teenaged girl calls to me while walking towards me.
“Hey! Excuse me. Do you know where ____Street is?” She hurries closer, breathless, eyes large and darting in what I take as nervousness or fear.
She is talking on her cell phone and talking to me at the same time.
The street she wants is several blocks away from where she wants to be and she is not even heading in the right direction. I point out to her which street to take, tell her which way to go, the most direct route away from where she is. All the while she remains on the phone, carrying on a conversation while trying to grasp the directions.
She seems bewildered.
“She’s telling me how to get there…” she says into the phone.
Then to me: “It’s my mother. She’s in Alabama and I’m here visiting my grandmother and my mother is freaking out because I am not supposed to be on this street.”
Ahhh. Me, being a mother, would freak out too if I had a young daughter who happened to be on this street wandering around. It’s a grey commercial route of abandoned and boarded up buildings and empty storefronts.
“OK, I’ll walk you over there, ” I say.
She relays this to her mother.
“My mother wants to talk to you…”
“Could you please just…”
She hands me her phone. Her mother repeats what the daughter has told me, as well as how she is from here and she knows what a crummy area her daughter is walking around in. I reassure her that we are already off of that street, heading in the right direction, not to worry. I am a little surprised that she trusts me, a stranger on the phone and so far away.
We walk blocks. I explain how to get to various safe and useful areas, which streets to take from her grandmother’s, and emphasize that under no circumstances should she walk alone around here after dark or go in the other direction again. I tell her of some interesting things to do and places to eat, too. Once relaxed she tells me of her plans, the sites she and her grandma will see: museums, shows, things they will happily do together.
I remind her to call her poor distressed mother to let her know that her dear daughter has arrived on a safer and walkable street. She thanks me, smiles, and goes on her happy independent way.
I figure, beyond the mundane and the routine of my day, that was my little purpose today.
It’s funny how we are handed things, sometimes.