A Matter of Touch


The jackhammer sends stones of concrete flying
as it screams its success at destruction into the night.

A torch spews out its molten metal vapor
that eats through the links of the chain.

A skylight opens overhead
lifting the heart up and out on a cloud of hope.

A soft grass path replaces
the walk of broken glass.

Freedom from condemnation
replaces the sentence of death.


He balances the plate on one hand while making sure he pours enough gravy on the mounds of food so that it forms rivulets around the plate, held in only by the plate’s lip.  As he places the plates in front of the people He hands them clean utensils and plenty of napkins.  He walks with the other servers, up and down the aisles between the tables.  He stands with the young man upset at the task of cutting onions.  He smiles at the dishwasher, constantly amazed at how little food has to be scraped off these plates.  He knows that for those who were fed, the dawn will be a new experience.

He cradles the head of the child in the crook of his arm, pressing the frail body against His.  He dips His silver cup into the well of Living Water and encourages the child to drink.  He whispers a soft melody into the child’s ear so that the child can forget for a moment the pain in his body.  Finally, he drinks.  The Water soothes even the cracked lips.

He takes His blanket, made from the cloak that once was draped around his shoulders as a mockery of his nobility, a cloak that is now soaked with His tears, His sweat, and His blood, and wraps it around the body huddled in the sharp corner of the bank building.  When the body awakes the next morning, he wonders at his feelings of warmth and restfulness.

The bandages are soaked with blood.  There has been no one around yesterday or today to change them. They are encrusted.  So He sits with his hands over the wounds, staunching the oozings with his breath.  

He kneels before the Prisoner with a basin of warm water mixed with some soothing oil.  The Prisoner sits, tears on his cheeks.  He can still hear the screams of the baby.  The yowls that had echoed perfectly the pain he felt growing inside him.  It had happened in an instant that he can’t even remember.  The baby’s head hit the edge of the wooden arm of the chair.  And then there was silence.  He takes the well-worn cloth from His pocket, dips it into the water and gently washes the Prisoner’s feet.  He massages the Prisoner’s ankles, carefully opens the toes and caresses them with His cloth.  He soothes the skin on the heels and the bottom of the feet.  He wrings out the cloth in his basin and moves on.

They had waited for years for this opportunity.  They were allowed to come into the country so the Man could teach.  He knew English, could understand what was being said around him, could speak back.  His Wife was not so fluent.  She wondered at the boisterous laughing she heard in the aisles at the grocery store, and wondered if they were laughing at her.  She wondered at the spices in small glass bottles, and could not find the flavors she could still feel in her nose.  They both felt loss at the vastness of the tall green plants that grew everywhere, and did not understand how people could live in homes so far apart.  He knew that they belonged to Him.  So he guided them to the rail and gave them what he could: His Body and His Blood.  They knew they were home.

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