A Lesson In Wholeness
the lines of her face were etched deeply,
each wrinkle showing a different point in time� a different tale.
What a story she held within.
Her clothes were ragged and hung from her limply
while her small callused hands
deftly sorted through the garbage.
She survived by what others dismissed.
A pair of glowing newlyweds walked by, clinging closely to one another,
careful not to let her loneliness touch them
trying desperately to separate themselves
to make her an object, something to be discarded.
It was a sharp feeling, one that went straight to the heart.
There was an unmistakable sense of coldness, of despair, of wonder�
dancing in the space between the young and old,
the unanswered questions that we are so quick dodge and avoid.
I have been that couple, that is something hard to watch, even harder to admit.
It is not easy to sit with the questions of the heart that are unanswered.
The guilt sets in, and I wonder -- why not me?
The disparity between her life and mine
seems to hang heavily in the cold winter air
I pull my coat closer to my skin,
the coldness of the moment coming too close for comfort.
The couple passes and looks to me for validation, for the release of their guilt,
for the acknowledgement that it is Us vs. Them as they have been taught.
I look to the crack in the sidewalk,
the place where the persistent weeds push their way through,
vying for the small space between.
I am unable to meet their eyes.
Now it is my turn, I walk past and look toward her eyes searching for answers
not knowing exactly what the questions are.
As she meets my gaze there is a silence
and a communication that no words could do justice to,
an understanding of the soul
beneath the wrinkled skin and washed out appearance.
She smiles, her eyes clear and blue, cutting through the cold,
looking for the soul beneath my skin, for the warmth of another human soul,
searching for the understanding that we are both human
in spite of our outer coverings.
Her look of appreciation for me acknowledging her
drives through me and takes my breath away.
It is as though she could read what is written on my heart
She searches my eyes for honesty and I understand.
We are not that different.
� Erica Staab Westmoreland
Writer, thinker, reader, liver and lover of life.