On Damaged Friends

There is a man

who wanders into my cube occasionally

to chat.

It’s a welcome break from office tedium.

I brighten up and smile.

He sees me brighten up and always seems shocked, then brightens up himself.

Having seen this, I brighten up some more.

I have to wonder,

Does no one else smile when he walks in?

Does he get so little affection in life

that it only takes this amount of love to throw him?


When I was a kid, we used to pass a boy on our rural back road

standing at a muddy, grassy bend.

Just standing.

He used to wave

and I would wave back.

“He’s retarded,” my  mom would say dismissively.

As if that made his all-inclusive friendliness less meaningful.

But she would wave as well.

I was always happy to see him.


There is a man who stands on his front lawn

In a derelict part of town.

Every day on the way to work I pass him by.

He waves to everyone whose face and car he recognizes.

We wave back.

Often he has more than one person on the lawn with him

sometimes sitting on his sidewalk steps

sometimes standing with their backs to him and chatting to one another.

His house seems to be a gathering place

at seven in the morning.

But I am a grown woman now

so when I pass him by

I worry about him.




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