The old man, out and almost-down, reeksof dank doorways, of unwashed clothes; sitsby the church steps, a Styrofoam crushed mugheld up for coins; he sees us, indistinctly, shadesgarnering small graces at his expense; hurt heron,will sleep tonight in a cardboard refrigerator boxwithstanding weather better than we do. Here,underneath the layers of dirt and shabbinessthere is vulnerable flesh, its valleys, its portalssacred as our own. Behind the blank though watchfuleyes, beyond the scars and stubble and beneaththe matted heron-grey topknot of his hairthere is a mind as friable as ours, and a soulsought for by the wandering, the forlorn Christ—heron, God’s loved leftover bird, slow to liftout of muddied waters into a doubtful sky.
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