Embracing the Homeless Woman Selling Papers

her gloveless hands presenting dusty news
her crisp brown eyes rising and quickly plummeting to her graying sneakers with each
squeaky swipe of the automatic doors as shoppers exit, heavy bags swinging from
their elbows
this word in front of that word that you hear yourself say to her

we suffer
when we believe in things
we do not understand


the outsideness of her world to you
that you can never know if you feel warmth the way she does, too small for her thin,
dull-brown coat, and her body, especially her eyes
that it was you who needed the hug

and when we do not quite believe
in people, places or things,
it is not quite suffering

the creases clawing at the corners of her eyes
the smile she gives you as she tells you about the slow death of her cat,
which was outside with her always, and great on a leash without ever being trained
how you reach into and then out of yourself to get that hug

but if we are very certain
that a person, place or thing
is something else,

then we should use a metaphor –
like hugging that cat-less woman is a very full grocery bag – then again,
what is a better metaphor for suffering than itself standing on its own
two tired feet
holding you with its own two gloveless hands

we suffer/ when we believe in things/ we do not understand

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Jane Smith
9 months 2 weeks ago

So great! It's wonderfulll how deep is this mater piece. thanks survival games


Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The Vatican has released the complete letter by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI about Pope Francis after facing criticism for manipulating a photograph of it.
Gerard O’ConnellMarch 17, 2018
This week’s top U.S.-Latino Catholic news
J.D. Long-GarcíaMarch 16, 2018
U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to Stephen Hawking during a ceremony at the White House in Washington Aug. 12, 2009 (CNS photo/Paul Haring).
There have been great physicists and mathematicians who were also great philosophers. Hawking, unfortunately, was not one of them.
Stephen M. BarrMarch 16, 2018
Pope Francis enters the main gate of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Oswiecim, Poland, July 29, 2016 (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, pool).
Poland’s Catholic primate called anti-Semitism “a moral evil and a sin.”
Catholic News ServiceMarch 16, 2018