The Shelter, Dawn

Semi-darkness stirs
the somnambulence of blankets,
a floor carpeted with pillows.

Snores that brought sleep
to many mouths subside.
The night is retired.

The guests now consider
where to put their lives,
how much will fit into a knapsack.

Those who act out of belief
collect stained sheets, fold quilts,
spray bleach on mattresses.

Eggs in the kitchen puff
yellow as the emerging sun.
The tired line up at two bathrooms

near baskets of toothbrushes,
bar soap. No anchor for this boat,
overfull, drifting here each Monday night

bobbing in the harbor
of a drafty church,
the coughing and the stinking

shuffling for coffee
under the cross of the roof,
many crosses on as many shoulders.

Where will each one shiver today
between this basement
and the shopping mall,

where warmth will do for a day.
This ham sandwich, this apple
will fill a frozen pilgrimage,

packed in a white paper bag
with crayoned pictures
drawn by a child

who thinks the world
will be saved by all this
on the coldest day of the year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maximum of 400 words or 2000 characters.

Comments on may be used in the Forum of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.