© 2013 by Michael L. Utley

The kid was too young
This distant uncanny boy
Face absconded
Into the murky depths of his
Drenched and threadbare
Crimson hoodie
Eyes mere pinpricks
Of sentience in the shadows
Where his face should be
On this pouring midnight
Sidewalk where even the rain seemed
Exhausted in the scornful cones
Of streetlamp illumination
And unseen clouds sighed above
Too tired for the bluster and pretense
Of thunder
And he sat there in this mess of a night
On a bench where no bus would ever stop
For anyone at anytime for any reason
Staring into the distance at both
Something and nothing at once
Moveless save for an occasional shiver
Waiting for someone or something
Or perhaps nothing at all

His shoes were soaking wet
Those black hi-tops iridescent
From rain and gutter filth
His dark spidery fingers
Loomed together in some
Cryptic pattern on his lap
Where rainwater pooled and eddied before
Dispersing first through his skinny legs
Then between the filthy slats of the bench
To merge with the noisy gutter rill
And then with the sewage below
And then the poisonous river
And then the darkness of the ocean
Of some other universe

And I passed him in the rain
Of that eternal night as I made
My own way into my own darkness
And I thought of some worried mother
Sitting at some rickety kitchen table
Bathed in the sickly yellow glow of a naked
Tungsten bulb
Haunted eyes fixed somewhere
Beyond the weeping window panes
Hands wringing in some unconscious
Talismanic effort of projected protection
For some lost child some prodigal son
Out there alone in the rain
And I couldn’t decide if she was
The boy’s mother
Or my own

And then my blackness
Was interrupted by a voice
Behind me
Not that of a man
Yet not that of a child
And I stopped and turned
And the kid was there
And in his outstretched hands
He held a soaked and faded
Red hoodie and a pair of
Sopping black hi-tops
And his eyes were calm
And his face shone in the rain
And he didn’t say a word
He just pointed at my own
Bare feet and my freezing body
And then he was gone
His own bare footprints
Lingering momentarily on the sidewalk
Before the rain took them away

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