Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Outcast

The young man is skinny and crooked,
his teeth angled like a broken fence
and as yellow as piano keys unconnected to wire.
One ear sticks out, the other folded flat
against his head like the broken wing of a plane,
his buck teeth curving his mouth into a perpetual smile.
Released from the carnival, he walks through a field
in late afternoon until he stumbles because of a lazy eye,
his gait drifting ever left, ever left.
On the fresh spring earth, he inhales the new grass,
marvels at its bright green color, its odor of birth
and the promise of a day when salvation will sing.

The world turns by a few degrees of arc
so that starlight from diamonds strikes his retina,
illuminating his brain and teaching his body,
crumpled like yesterday’s newspaper,
the ways of God, the humility born of pain.
He looks at the precious gifts of sky and earth
that so few others are ever able to attain.
Slowly he kneels, then stands on the untroubled sod.
He knows that the next stutter, inevitable as the sun and the rain,
will bring him even closer to the mind of God.

~William Hammett

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