The Road Divides
“The Road Divides for Eternity at the Gospel”
This man had three months left, seventy month stretch.
On Interstate 40 he and a work crew looked up
at the ledge under a bridge overpass.
“Get to it; bag that trash.”
They climbed a 45° concrete slant to the shaded sill
and scooped food wrappers, empty bottles, grimy blankets,
cardboard mattresses, butts and a Gideon’s Bible
into black trash bags. Dank vapor hung like exhaust.
Spiders waited in their silken homes.
The man shoved his bag down, a colossal bowling ball
striking the bridge column. “Spare” he thought.
He studied the empty ledge, the acute angles
Forming triangles, rectangles, lines crisscrossing—
Hard edges straight as prison rules
Until a dove swooped below
and landed in her nest. She preened her wings.
“Let’s hit the road.”
At the bottom the inmate saw a ragged man limp
and stop a few feet away. “Where’s my shit?”
“Man,” he said, “I’m sorry; the guard told us to bag everything up.”
“I’m homeless.” He gazed at his vacant space.
“You got to do what the man says.”
The inmate sighed, gazed at the ledge, the dove
dozing in her nest as cars blasted by, walked to the prison bus,
grabbed his bagged lunch, turned to the man and said “It’s yours.”
A few homeless men had approached
Watching their lives thrown into the back of the bus.
A few other inmates got their lunches
And gave them away too.