Cityscape: Photo by Sharon Burtner

Sixth and Market

His hand is poised heavenward,
Pleading divine restoration,
In a way the man had never begged
When blood flowed beneath
His parched, cracked skin.

A thousand quarters had prolonged
The man's embarrassed thirst;
A thousand hugs were missed;
A hundred smiles forgotten;
Incessant sneers ignored;

As he paced his daily sojourn
From his certain spot of sidewalk
To liquor stores with daily specials
Targeting the alcoholic as their
Most dependable consumer -
A brief, but life-long, customer.

Now his pealing skin
Lay beneath fine, sterile sheets,
Except two outstretched fingers
Beckoning the morbid and the startled
To gawk at his lifeless form.

Some people strode far around him;
Others barely noticed, as
A uniformed policeman
Draped his unyoked body
With the tenderness a mother
Shows her newborn child.

Tucking back those jutting fingers,
The policeman blanketed
All visible reminders
Of the man who is known only
As the corpse on Sixth and Market.

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