spoke to me with whiskey on his breath
(or beer, or gin -- when you get to the stuff that cheap,
it all starts to smell the same).
he said to me, "do me a favour",
and i looked up from my book of Rumi;
"have a good night tonight."
and i nodded and said, "thanks. i plan to."
and he turned from me, muttering softly;
"i wish i was at home with my wife right now."
"as do i", i said, though he gave no sign of having heard.
and then he stood up and, informing the bus driver of his decision,
walked off of the bus as it stopped at a red light.
i watched him go,
wishing that he wouldn't.
when he said, "have a good night tonight",
i should have said, "thank you, uncle. may you also have a good night."
i should have asked him about his wife.
how quickly he was gone!
i would have done no better had he remained on the bus, i suspect.
i know where he lives.
i have been to his clearing in the woods between the power plant and the river.
it is a good, secluded spot, safe from discovery but by those migrant fishermen
who fish the river in blatant violation of city ordinance;
i would never have found his resting place
had i not known the signs and where to look.
there he keeps an extra set of clothes, a worn suit coat,
small piles of nearly-current newspapers, and assorted job application forms.
i visit it sometimes, on my lunch break,
and spied him there on one such occasion.
as he stepped from the bus i watched him go, thinking
"there goes Christ. i have failed again."
and i was not enlightened.
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