Posted by: Mark Nielsen | December 13, 2007

Commuter Guilt

Fatigue.
Long day.
Long drive home, just begun.

On Cicero Avenue five minutes north
A car is stalled in the right-hand lane.
I’d do the Good Samaritan thing
If I wasn’t so damned tired.
I throw up a prayer for the driver,
Not entirely certain if it’s for him
Or to soothe my own guilt.

A hundred yards on:
A group of Latino boys
Shuffling down the sidewalk,
Under the Ogden Avenue viaduct.
They’re all bundled in black,
With black hair on their heads–
Heads now pulled down into their coat collars
To ward off the gray, the wind, the cold.
They look like a murder of crows,
At the same time both swaggering and beaten down,
Having walked or taken buses a whole lot more than I ever did at their age
(or at any age, really).

I wonder if they stopped to see if that driver needed help?
They certainly could have,
If this city didn’t harden people like it does.

Then again, maybe they were in that car,
And they’re off to get some help.
I’d like to think so, anyway.

How many hundreds of people
Do I see like this each day?
From a distance of ten feet or less
Here in my sound-proof, trouble-free, glass-and-steel box on wheels
(Where I might as well be a million miles away).


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