Magnolia Roots and an Underperforming Sidewalk; A Homeless Man Trips and Falls

my hands are full of groceries, of food
that I will eat. Do you remember me? he
asks. No, I say. I do not. Most of me is
not strong enough for everything taking
place right now. My ankles ache beneath
the weight of my body, the weight of this
man, the weight of my decision to not offer
him anything other than a hand. Do you
remember me? he asks again. I look hard
at his paint-chipped face, his cracked eyes
his broken lips. No, I say, I do not. He is
more hurt by this than the cut on his arm
than whatever pride was lost losing his
balance in front of a guy who was doing
his best to ignore him. Don’t eat it all
in one place, he says when I pick my bags
back up and struggle to put a key into
the lock on a door I’ve opened only once
before. It’s a dirty yellow, which reminds
me of dusk, which reminds me it is dusk
which reminds me that soon it will be
dark, and this man is still standing there
watching me, and I hope that I see him
again because when he asks if I remember
him then, I will tell him, of course. How
could I ever forget, of course I remember. 

BJ Love teaches English and creative writing at the Emery/Weiner School in Houston, TX. His poems have been published in Gulf Coast, The North American Review, and elsewhere.