Friday, 31 October 2008

Someone: A poem for people who have no name

A tribute to the "little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love" that make all the difference!


In the streets I am no one
just another face
milling among the millions
until a child looks up shyly
hides his face behind his mother's dress
then peeps out again and waves
and then, for that moment, I am someone.

In the streets I am no one
a stuffed shirt like all the rest
swept up in the crowd like a leaf in autumn
until a lame, limping, tattered old man catches my eye
and tilts his head as if we were accomplices
in some mysterious plot.
"Tough life," he says
and for a moment I am someone.

I duck into a side street
behind a familiar door.
Out there I have no name but here
there is a bottle with my name on it
familiar figures on barstools
faces lighting up with recognition.
Here I am someone.

And in the mornings
if I fall asleep on the crowded train
there is a lady who wakes me
and together we climb the steps companionably to street level.
I have no name for her and she has none for me
but through her I am someone.

In the streets I am no one
but I have a home to go to
and when the snow falls in the street and the neighbours all go out with shovels and someone brings a tray with tea and biscuits
then, then I am someone.

And when I leave the streets behind me
and turn to spaces filled with only trees and birdsong
and a narrow path to come and go by
and there is room to breathe and to be someone
I don't thank God (who, after all, has much to answer for)
or pride myself on being a self-made man.
I think of neighbours shovelling snow, the lady on the train, the smiles as my bottle comes down from the shelf, a limping old man, a child - all those who weave
the web of my creation
through simple recognition
that I am someone.

I am someone
when I am smiled at, spoken to, acknowledged.
Someone when I am greeted, welcomed, warmed.
And when I am alone and have time to recollect
I paste the smiles and waves and nods
the passing greetings and the sweet embraces
in the scrapbook of my memory and hold their authors there
with thanks
because, for me, you too are someone.

1 comment:

Amy.mangos said...

Wonderful. I love hearing your voice accompany it. Sometimes, I think, poetry is meant to be read, and it sounds strange coming from the author's lips. Yours, however, gains an added pinch of melody when you speak it. Thanks for commenting on my poll, so I could find you here and enjoy some poetry this morning!

I am already ashamed to be an American. I was so excited to vote my first presidential election in 2004- we would be the generation to show the world that Americans are not all self-righteous assholes! Then Bush won again, this time for real. What the fuck? I have no faith left in this country, but I do have a vote and I refuse to believe it won't count for something. If I believed that, we'd be with our families in Tokyo or Tasmania. There is so much at stake with this election... we need all the prayers and what-not we can get!