Street light switches to red and it takes a second for the revenant to look up. But it doesn't matter. He goes. The bum staggers into the street. And he goes with a forced stride, lifting his jaw, struggling for balance. His clothes wear him, the worse for it. I see the sum total of what he has become-wrinkled and worn with the wet pavement reflecting crimson underneath him. For that split moment, it looks like a river of blood. He is awash in it and he wavers in the middle there, face turned to the sky as rain starts up again. The pallor of indigent, unwashed skin turns ghoulish as the light changes over his head to green. His head swivels and I watch him swallow hard, staring, daring the driver.waiting to go.


Benched on the bus, quiet like a locked box, looking up. So many squeezing in, scoot down, make room, sit on sister's lap. Elbow room is gone with the freedom to swing the feet.

Or breathe.

Hands rest on her gloves, holding on, and furtive glances show others clutching too. Poles, briefcases, loops. La, the bus lurches and brakes screech. Sister grunts. Sit still.


Crashing glass scattered and I, as always, picked up the pieces. Tongue shards that cut so deep a grown man can't cry splintered through the air, slivering. And he stood there, hands loose, deliberately doing nothing. I tell you, he simply stupors in stunned silence, swallowing anger and bile and impotence, seething in something I can't understand, while I, on the other hand, am writhing with indignance and fury and the fact that I saw the mirror before it broke and it reflected my face.


Hands down, head down, the only view around is legs. Calves and shins. A few bony knees poking through. We don't look far enough to note the shoes. Hemlines and fabrics: polyester, linen, and wool. A sea of swishing pants and skirts. Swim sick little loner. Cringe at the concept of eye contact. It doesn't matter if you're stepped on.


Though sun shone through the mossy boughs of overhanging catalpas as I drove on the familiar country lane toward my own home-I felt like a stranger, numb. A veteran from a foreign war, unarmed, and stripped of rank, blind and crippled.

Blurring, I could see through the tears and move through the pain, and without any conscious will, I passed water through stained glass, gasping time after time, reliving memories of my soundless life on that farm.

I thought I had gone deaf until the buttered leather beside me caterwauled, screaming, "Do you see that I am empty?" I reached out and felt forlorn, my fingers finding nothing.

Nothing but echoes of yesterday enveloped me again and again. And I could not deliver myself from my sweet wife's face as she cried, "Thank God you're home" before she collapsed in my arms. I was too late. How could she leave me like this?

             Jennifer DiCamillo 2005