XI. A Meager Meal

Every Saturday my lover and I
Gathered with the other well-fed
volunteers to load meals into a van,
and then drive to our stations in
Manhattan to hand them out,

Mothers pushing strollers with
Crack-glazed eyes, and
Old men in ill-fitting overcoats
lined up outside Harlem Hospital
In the bitter cold
Waiting for the van.

The grand meal consisted of
two slices of white bread with
two slices of lunch meat,
an apple, and a half-pint of milk.
For those gifts, people waited
sometimes hours for the us to

One cold February night,
We’d handed out over 100 meals,
And when we got to the last man
In line, there was nothing left.
He looked into my eyes and
a tear slipped down his cheek.

I took a  20 dollar bill
out of my pocket,
put it in his hand
and walked all the
way downtown
as the snow fell.

I never went back.

Yet, to this day, decades later,
I still remember that man,
and the meteor-like impact
he made on my soul.
He made me feel his hunger,
The unfairness of his life,
His longing for warmth,
And how little I could do
With a single tear.

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