Here in my humble little town we’ve recently had this issue of ‘homeless’ folks taking up residence in our city parks. I’m not talking a handful, there’re literally hundreds! It’s not as if we don’t have facilities to help them, the issue with facilities seems to be the rules; no drugs, no drinking, you must be ‘in’ by a certain hour, and you must (for Pete’s sake) bathe.
Just too constricting, they say. Really? I never thought I’d say this but these folks are imposters! True homeless people welcome assistance and are more than willing to comply with contingencies; no matter the reasons for their situations, they are still self-respecting citizens just needing a hand up. Not a hand-out.
Lately there’s been talk of maybe allowing these folks to use abandoned school houses. Can you imagine? Naturally, things changed a bit when twelve (including the self-appointed spokesman) of them were arrested the other night for drugs and drug-trafficking. Now, there’s a new ‘spokesperson’ who believes we should all “have a heart for those who are down on their luck”.
For years I worked in an office in an industrial section of town near the railway, trucking depots—and yes, a smattering of homeless folks. There was ‘Bob’ who pushed a grocery cart filled with all his worldly belongings (and who knows what else!) up and down the street every day. One winter we decided to gift him with a warm pull-over and a bundle of clean, white socks. The next morning there was a loud thump on the office door when Bob unceremoniously returned the socks, unopened.
But then there was Mary; dear, sweet Mary.
Mary of Santa Rita
No past to speak of, at one with herself
A piteous sight to observe
At large in our world with no one to help
Yet she remains unconcerned.
Unwavering faith, an unspoken truth
in “ask and you shall receive”
Arriving each day to loiter for proof
Before being asked to leave.
Age-knotted fingers, no longer her savior
A weaver of grass and twigs.
Under the shelter of yesterday’s paper
Worn on her head like a wig.
The southwestern sun is brutal
on skin that is already dark.
Both fashion and fanfare are futile
when one makes her home in a park
So, what do you say, good people? How do you feel about the subject of homelessness? Is there a similar situation in your city? Have you written about it, or included it in a setting?