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The Passersby

By Joy Waters

It's a cold and dreary day; the child has wet feet.
Timidly he steps out, greeting daylight on the street,
Hoping just to chance upon someone who is kind,
Whose giving will soothe and ease his young mind.

His eyes barely open, his clothes are all torn,
He makes his way slowly to the spot he's oft worn.
The first car, it passes, and with some surprise,
A man tries to pretend he saw not the child's eyes.

Why, he has a boy too, by a few years just shy,
And what a sack full of gifts at Christmas he buys!
"But this one's not mine! Whose fault is it that
He shivers outside without proper coat or hat?"

By this time he's passed him; think of the trouble
If he'd have to turn now to pass for the double!
So on he scurries, trying hard to forget
The memories he now has of awful regret.

The next car holds a lady, fine and rich,
Suited in clothes she would never herself stitch.
Blinking her eyes, she takes a second look--
"Shouldn't that boy be in school, behind a book?"

"How careless some are these days--uncaring too!
She must be delinquent, for all mothers should coo
About their young children; mine are in fine shape.
In this sort of weather, they'd sport a soft, velvet cape!

"Furthermore, do they really expect us to be content
To raise our children amidst a lot so bent
On cluttering our streets with such pitiful sights?
Subjecting our darlings to this cannot be right."

The chauffeur interrupted her thoughts just in time.
The boy was long gone, looking at the next line
Of cars, as they formed; he scratched his young face
And leaned against a pole, securing his sad place.

Then came a host of rich cars; they sped right on by,
Prompting our lad to lower his head with a sigh.
"Can not one choose to give even a coin that's worn?
It wasn't my choice to enter a family that was torn."

His mind drifts for a moment to his mother, all alone,
Scraping just to barely survive, eating off the bone;
While up just a distance, within eyesight's easy reach,
Tall glamorous buildings richly decorate the street.

"Why such a contrast? Why can't we just have food?
Why must our lives depend on another's kind mood?"
Though a teardrop trickled down his sobered cheek
"I will continue," he pressed on. "I mustn't be weak."

Just as he had determined to face life one time more
Came the blessing to his prayer behind a rusty door.
A pickup truck, barely running, ground to a jerky halt.
The jolly face peering out announced his name as Walt.

And then a woman, also kind, moved closer in to see
Just who was there, and seeing the lad, she grinned broadly.
"Oh come on in--just for a moment!" she nudges the man.
The boy's wary look changes her tune, "Ah! I think we can…"

"Scurry on over--if this rattletrap will--and park over there.
We'll find a spot in that coffee shop and get settled where
Acquainted we can become, and warmed a wee bit too.
Coffee we'll have, and we'll get some good hot food for you!"

The boy turned his face away, for a tear was forming fast,
But as the warmth filled his soul, he turned back at last.
"Why thank you! I'd be much obliged … and in return?"
"Why, nothing at all," Walt said, "but more I'd like to

"About your life and how you came to wander in the cold."
"And how," the lady added, "you've grown to be so bold."
By this time the three were nestled into a snug booth.
The lad unfolded his story, every word spoken in truth.

Underneath the table, the couple clutched hands together;
Troubles a-plenty had fashioned their exterior into leather.
But the twinkle of their eyes, and passion of their smiles
Kept them soft inside, and dishing out joy all the while.

This little lad would not learn their deep and sad secret,
Of the child they both had lost, for they resolved to keep it
From those already burdened; no, they would share cheer,
And this young soul had known already his portion of fear.

As they rose, a cloak was placed around his slender frame
With a smile he held it tight, and gave forth his name.
The youngster's name--Billy--resonated within their ears,
As they fought and struggled to hold back all the tears.

But as in times past, when grief threatened to overthrow
They opened their hearts to the sunshine, in letting it flow.
And as God has always promised, love washed clean,
Replacing with better things what the best once seemed.

Onward the trio trudged, to find the rest of Billy's clan
The couple would promise to fill the void left by a man.
The tragedy of a young mother would be covered soon;
The little ones with shoes and clothes would play at noon.

And Billy would, in time, forget the biting looks unkind
Of the passersby in cars that had once soiled his mind.
But one memory would never leave--the old red truck;
The encounter that he knew could not be termed as luck.

As the kindly couple aged, for their life was fully spent.
Billy, now a man, in gratefulness daily to them went;
At long last he inquired of their life, and pressed them far
And with a gentle creak, the door of their life stood ajar.

Then every lesson crystallized, every wound was healed;
The truth of a lost loved one within his heart was sealed.
Is it not the truth that those who have, often hoard more?
While the givers cheerfully offer what they've lost before?

Any hurts from deprivation, or any wishes gone awry,
Billy tossed behind his back, as he faced the open sky.
His mentors now had left this Earth, but still he held fast
The jewel of accepting loss, not remaining in the past.

He set his mind to change gears, to tune up afresh
Never to pass that child by, and always live to bless
So he did till his ripe days faded; every step was made
In honor of the golden street of kindness he had laid.

When you next pass a child or needy folk of some kind,
Observe carefully and make good note of it in your mind.
Who it is that reaches out; who gives to their own hurt?
It is the one that loss has touched who understands the