He lives under the bridge, or in an abandoned shed
behind the factory. In winter he might make it to the shelter.
The shelter overflows in winter, empty in summer,
except for dinner time. Simon has lived on the streets
so long no one in town remembers before. Almost
no one. He walks from one spot to another, making
his daily rounds. He knows when grocery stores dump
produce, which restaurants give hand outs at close.
Even in summer Simon wears layers. Must keep your clothes,
close. Dirty old t-shirts covered by ill fitted sweaters,
sweatshirt, topcoat. Each piece varies from one year
to the next but all look the same. Each topped
with whatever team’s baseball cap he happens to find,
or be given. Some people are kind, buy the homeless
sandwiches, or give money. Some lecture the woes
of drink, teenage boys mock them or steal their bottles.
Most people just walk past, pretend they aren’t there.
I shove a dollar in his fist, or buy him a Big Mac.
In fall I find him, drop off a scarf and stocking cap
that he wears under his baseball cap. He stares at me,
worn grey eyes that question, but never focus. He reaches
out his cigarette stained hand, dirt embedded deep under his nails.
I flinch, afraid of his touch, though I remember.
his daughter, Ellie Ann, my neighbor and best
friend. Simon gave us piggybacks around
and around their yard. We’d steal his
Cardinals cap, pretend it was our whip.
Go horsey, go! we would call.
He would rear and buck until fireflies began to light,
then Mr. Grace, now Simon, found us jars.
Summer evenings spent between our yards.
Sometimes I watch as he walks away.
Hand held out as if offered to a little girl.
By Melissa Rendlen
I have been a practicing urgent care physician for thirty-six years, and recently returned to my love of writing poetry. I have had poems published in L’Ephemere, GFT:Press, Indolent Press What Rough Beast, Still Crazy, Writing Raw, Ink in Thirds , have been a Tupelo Press 30/30 poet, and received honorable mention in my first chapbook attempt from Concrete Wolf.