A Son To Meet

“Let’s move along there. Move along.”
The homeless men all know the routine well.
Once the sun has risen, this becomes a place they don’t belong.
Police encourage their swift departure, with no attempt to dwell.

This band of dirty, ragged men gather their meager treasures
and quickly melt into the cracks and crevices of downtown.
All save one, who is comatose from too many imbibed pleasures.
Finding blood on his face, the police have an ambulance sent around.

“Where am I? How did I get here? Where’s my stuff?”
“Just calm down, calm down. You’re in the hospital because you drank
too much, were coughing up blood. You are malnourished, sick enough
to be admitted. That you are even alive - you have the police to thank.”

“Maybe I don’t want to be alive! Did you ever think about that?”
“Now, now. Don’t talk that way…for the record, what’s your name?”
“As pigeons scatter before you on downtown streets, do you play at
caring what to call them? Call me Homer Pigeon. Any name is the same.”

“Mister Pigeon, this is your last counseling session before
discharge. Can’t we try to figure out why you drink so much?”
He remembers: His five-year-old son and he this parade caught more
Mardi Gras beads than ever. He has handfuls held tightly in his clutch.

Walking along the narrow, car-lined streets, they are laughing.
Suddenly a drunk driver drives directly toward them!
Instinctively, he jumps…and watches the car now hitting, now dragging
his precious boy. In disbelief, he runs to the bloodied boy and cradles him.

His eyes, his eyes…they look at him with such questioning, such questioning.
How did you let this happen, Dad? Why didn’t you save me?, they ask.
He feels the mangled body draw its last breath, his own torment beginning.
That dying look burns into his soul, making any peace a thing of his past.

His wife eventually said she forgave him; his parents, friends all forgave him.
But he knew that he would never, could never accept forgiveness from them.
“With no medical reason to keep you, we’re putting you back on the street.”
“That’s fine by me. You see, I have this son that I need to go and meet…”

Harry Edward Gilleland      07.31.02