“Orange” by Susan Vespoli

Susan Vespoli


I’m the mother of the man 
living at the park off 57th Avenue,
a man who found religion and wants to pray 
with those he meets on the street,
those who buy five-dollar hits 
of fentanyl and contemplate suicide
like he once did. I’m the mother 
of a man who carries a bag 
of oranges from the 24-hour WinCo, 
where he walks to wash his face,
a man who sleeps upright on a cement bench 
beneath a ramada, eyes closed, head 
drooped forward. I’m the mother 
of a man I hear breathe in the backseat, 
nodded off next to his backpack
and jug of water as I look out 
the windshield at traffic lights, 
pigeons on lampposts, clouds—
but he’s not there; he’s back at the park, 
head bowed, peeling an orange 
at a concrete table in the shade.

from Rattle #76, Summer 2022


Susan Vespoli: “Every homeless person you pass on the street or in the park is someone’s beloved kid. One of them is mine.” (web)

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