Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Encounter with a beggar

I am sure that every person who has ever traveled to the developing world has had encounters with beggars and has struggled on the inside with how to respond.

My own dear Matthew (16) wrote this poem after an encounter with a beggar on the streets of Manila. He gave me permission to post it here.

The light was red,

The traffic deep,

And he was quick and slow to creep

Up to my window, stare inside,

Watch love and pride as they collide.

The taxi driver locked the doors,

Quick! Windows up!

Let's start the wars

Inside your heart,

Now you decide,

Give? Or just watch?.

Your love and pride.

"Please sir. Please.

I'll sell you these."

His little white flowers swayed in the breeze.

"If you give then many more will come."

The taxi driver, cold and numb.

"I'm lost, I'm little, I'm so alone.

Be kind my sir.

I'm on my own."

What should I do?

What should I do?



Or give up on the few,

Give up on the lost,

Give up on the lonely...

Give up on deserted, the destitute,


The love!

The pride!

Now watch them collide!

Watch me!

Wretched man that I am!

As I run,

As I run,

As I run,

As I hide.

As I look at my heart,

That is laying there, dead.

Because I...

Because I...

Because I shook my head...

I shook my head.

I shook my head!

I shook my sick disgusting head!

When I, a rich American,

Would've lost nothing by giving to him,

And he, lost, little, so alone,

Would've gained the world if I'd forgotten my pride.

Would've gained the world if I was humble inside.

Would've gained the world if I wasn't afraid,

Of losing myself,

If I'd given him aid.

If I'd had some compassion,

If I only had grace,

But instead I watched tears as they ran down his face.

I tried not to look into his eyes.

I tried not to listen to his lonely cries.

But they shattered my ears.

They shattered my brain.

They shattered my heart!

I was torn apart!

"You wretch! What have you done!

You monster! What have you become!"

No! No!

I must make this right!

I must end this bitter internal fight.

I have coins!

I have coins stowed away in my jacket,

I will give them to him!

That will stop all the racket.

Quick! Reach.

I'll give,

I'll go,

And then I will be...

Oh no!

Please no!

The light turned green.

The car pulled away.

And I lost my chance,

As it fell in the fray.


The smudges he left remain on the window.

I drive through the street.

I feel incomplete.

My love, alone,

That my pride did defeat.

I feel sick inside,

Would you have been able to swallow your pride?





Try to hide!

And then...



kk said...

i LOVE this.

j sent it to me and i was, of course, floored. (it also spurred on my comments that i'm not cool or interesting enough for you guys. :))

m's poem reminds me of this photo my amma took while on the way to the airport this summer:

Beth said...

Au contraire, Kandyce! The Pinckney crew is in for a way cool time with you, dear heart.