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“Random Acts”

Read "Random Acts", a poem about compassion.

           “It is undoubtedly true that each of us…
           irresponsible and thoughtless as we often are,
           hold within our hands the happiness and sorrows of others.”
           —Father Basil W. Maturin

Fickle are my fingers
cupping kindness too loosely,
little liquid leftover for the thirsty
after my own hurried slurping or —
                                 busily en route
from one deadline to the next —
my selfish brain unable to contain
the split-second Samaritan intention
toward compassion.
                                 One day,
my shy teen smile stopped
a suicide, or so — thirty years later,
a stranger claimed, cleaning
deeply the wounds of all
                   my accidental sorrow,
that I, on purpose,
stored up in empty sockets
and stopped-up ears,
avoiding aid on every walkway.
                                 Today,
a woman, not unlike me,
offered tea; the teen
the car in front of me
took on my toll,
                      the not-random angel
on the highway shifted
slightly to the right
a patch of ice
I did not see —
                                 or was that me
become me
in them, finally folding
my fingers just so, the water
brimming, cool and clear
                       just as a stranger walks by.

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