10-1 The Road Divides

The Road Divides

 

“The Road Divides for Eternity at the Gospel”

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

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.

 

 

 

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