Thursday, January 6, 2011

in broad daylight, fragile life

at a stoplight in Miami, we watch a woman, wrapped in one of those dresses that look more like a circus tent, but small, covering little of her thick legs, rise from a striped stained mattress, laid cock-eyed beneath a palm tree, leaving her lover lounging at the ready. squatting by the wall, hand pressed to its mudded contours, fingers splayed for support, she relieves herself in a puddle, consumed thirstily by the hard baked ground. done, she stands, stretches, then ambles back across the sand & scrub grass & settles once more atop her man.

the light turns green, horns behind us let us know its time to go & we look at each other, uncomfortable, blaming the sunlight for blink back tears. she, someone's daughter. he, someone's son.

hot sun cold on my skin as it filters through the window.

true story. about 8 years ago, it was mid-day and we were on our way to sales call. its one of those disturbing images that sticks with you.

imperfect prose

117 comments:

CM said...

Sadly, this reminds me of the homeless population in my city. They know no other life. Their struggles are hearbreaking and the worst part is, many of them don't want help or refuse help. Sometimes, I just have to send up a little prayer because that's all I can do.

Syd said...

Raw stuff. I wonder what happened along the way. Probably the same thing that happens to each of us--life. But we have chosen different paths.

annell said...

This is hard to read. But unfortunately, not unfamiliar.

Anonymous said...

life is viciously cruel to too many of our brothers and sisters.

Its such a drastic thing which we should never ignore and should always hope, pray and do some thing to change it.

god bless you my friend.
trisha
mydomainpvt.wordpress.com

Mama Zen said...

That is disturbing!

Valerie said...

Worrying but oh so true. CM is right in the comment that many don't want help, but that's something I fail to understand.

Leah said...

Oh my dear goodness, in a sad twist of fate my post this morning is a sister post to this one, Brian...

Eva Gallant said...

So sad, but too common.

Sue said...

I can see how that image would have stayed with you. It must have been hard to see, because it was even hard to read.

"/

Heather said...

oh, so very sad...someone's daugher...i wish someone could save them

Cinner said...

Sad, I often wonder about their stories, and how the road has led them to here. smiles my friend.

kaleidoscope said...

so sad, the world for all her beauty has so many stories like this...so many forgotten souls.

Daniel said...

Wow, this hurts. Kind of a punch in the gut.

deb said...

It breaks my heart , seeing,
knowing,

I think of my brokenness mostly hidden , wonder where the lines get blurry in a person, wonder when they crossed into complete hopelessness.

ladyfi said...

So moving in its intensity.. Sad and yet - this too is part of life.

TALON said...

Heartbreaking...seeing that does definitely feel both surreal and voyeuristic at the same time...their lives on full and brutal display.

Kat_RN said...

Not a prettty picture. Even the little town where I work has homeless people now.
Kat

mama-face said...

oh. Don't we all fell compelled to look and then look away in embarrassment? I love the observation that we are all someone's child. i'd call this perfect prose.

Jen Chandler said...

Very hard read. I always wonder about people when I see them in situations like that. What brought them to that life? Where did they come from? Doesn't anyone miss them? And if so, do they even know it?

Heart rending
~Jen

Deb said...

...'the light turns green, horns behind us let us know its time to go'...that might just be the saddest line in this whole piece. Everyone is so caught up in their lives, their hustle and bustle that we've lost sight of what truly matters. Take care.

Kate Hanley said...

I can see why the image burned into your brain. You captured it well. I wonder if images like this one, the ones that leave an impression...is it because we continually wonder if we can do anything about it?

Magpie said...

Heartbreaking really. At what point does a human being stop feeling human?

PattiKen said...

There are so many of these little vignettes that break your heart. You can't help but wonder how it can come to this. Where is the humanity in human beings that we leave so many of our own by the side of the road?

Myrna R. said...

Very sad. I can see why it would stick with you. It will stick with me, and I didn't even see it.

Pauline said...

such a poignant piece. these words - "the light turns green, horns behind us let us know its time to go" are as sad as the recognition that she's someone's daughter, he's someone's son. we look, we watch, we leave. At least you were moved...

Goofball said...

no wonder that sticks

Joanie said...

How very sad that this isn't on of your made-up stories, and that you actually witnessed it.

Shaunie Friday--Up the Sunbeam said...

What a heartbreaking story. You have conveyed it in all its stark pain without exploiting it in any way. It always amazes me when I hear or see something like this, that God has to constantly know all those tragic stories and broken moments in the lives of people He knows and LOVES. I can't even imagine.

Rebecca S. said...

I suppose one ought to say, 'But for the grace of God go I' but I'm tempted to think that may be pushing it. That is not a scene that would escape my memory file either. There is so much to pity in this world.

Nancy said...

I can see why it stuck with you. Wow.

Vodka Logic said...

heartbreaking. and an all too common site these days.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Brian,

This is an awful scene described with very precise words. I suppose this sort of things happens all over the world.

To day afternoon I saw a dirty bedraggled man and woman sleeping next to each other on top of the gutter slabs near a stinking abattoir unmindful of the horrible stench emanating from the gutter or the abattoir and oblivious to the curious look of the passers by.There was a cart parked next to them with the waste paper and rusted tins which they must have collected on the roads and streets since morning.Both of them looked very tired. I could see the red stain on the woman's lips due to constant chewing of the beetle leaves,lime and nuts.Their clothes were in taters.But they were fast asleep on the hard slabs.It was a touching scene but there are innumerable poor people like this all over the world.Sometimes we notice and sometimes we don't notice because we are buried in our own thoughts.

A great post Brian,
Joseph

Steve said...

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.
--Mark Twain

Glad to be back, Brian.
Steve E

Monkey Man said...

ick

Lisa notes... said...

Wowsa. That is a story that would stick with you. But I guess we need to see such scenes periodically to stay in touch with raw reality around us.

elizabeth said...

Doesn't it break your heart what the enemy has done to the sons and daughters of God...can't wait for the day when he's dealt with once and for all!
Elizabeth
http://www.justfollowingjesus.com

Nezzy said...

Those are the things that tug at your heartstrings and stay with you forever. No matter how hauntingly sad. {{{SIGH}}}

God bless and you have yourself a marvelous New Year!!!

blueviolet said...

It's a crude lifestyle and such a shame.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Makes me thankful for my life .......

Emmanuel Ibok said...

Sad image, B...I always say a prayer to the afflicted at least until I am able and capable to come to their rescue.

Happy New Year,

Cheers!

Courtney Walsh said...

so sad. your words are beautiful and intense...raw, I agree is a great description.

Makes me think, though of Ted Williams, the man with the golden voice who only a few days ago was homeless (ten years homeless, I believe) and this morning was on the Today Show. Makes me hope that for more people like him, like this daughter and this son, there will be a happy ending...

Claudia said...

have to hold back tears..

Claudia said...

..can't hold back tears..

TechnoBabe said...

What a hard life some people have and most of us don't see much of it.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Yikes. What a life.
Nice job telling the story.
jj

Melissa Campbell said...

You have a beautiful gift, Brian, in addition to writing. You see with a heart of compassion. I wrote about this today in my blog--how I really messed up because I had a chance to enter in and share someone's pain--share in the sufferings of Jesus--but I coldly refused.

Praying He opens my eyes to see like you do, and gives me grace to share His hope with them.

Christina said...

Oh wow! That a hard image to take in. Sadly, it one of those things that is a part of the world we live.

Carrie Burtt said...

This is certainly a powerful and painful memory Brian, and well written. Hope all is going well for you in the new year. :-)

Bev said...

pretty intense. just living their life in front of everyone.
some homeless don't want to live any differently.
surely you've read glass castle by jeannette walls? fascinating book. just thinking about it makes me want to read it again!

Boom Boom Larew said...

There but for the grace of god...

Dulce said...

Oh God... Being witness to this kind of stuff is really disappointing... it's then that we realize all we have is too much compared with all that nothing others have to bear and live with.
Unfair world.

Pastor Sharon said...

I hate for people to have to live this way! There are many of them in our city and it is so sad.

The Retired One said...

It is so very sad. The news story this week about that guy with the beautiful announcing voice being "discovered" and being given a job gives us all a glimmer of hope....

Mighty M said...

No wonder you can write about it so much after the fact - that is one image that is hard to forget.

Belinda said...

The loss of privacy and dignity is painful to watch. Thanks for sharing this story that's all too real.

signed...bkm said...

yes, there is far to much homelessness here are around the world...it takes everything within to fight it even from happening to oneself...would like to say the world could be cured from it, but history speaks differently - and the images remain and the imprint our own life....bkm

Vicki Lane said...

Somebody's daughter; somebody's son -- always good to remind ourselves/

Like the old gospel song about the beggar at the rich man's gate, " He was some mother's darling; he was some mother's son. Once he was fair and once he was young. Some mother rocked him, her little darling, to sleep, But they left him to die like a tramp on the street."

Reggie said...

I have often wondered how quickly homelessness could engulf one's life. For some, it's knocking at the door.

Deidra said...

I've seen similar images. There are far too many opportunities to see scenes unfold like that. I've thought the same thing - someone's daughter, someone's son. You've told it so well, even with eight years between the seeing and the telling. Your seeing, and our reading...it changes things.

Loni said...

My twin daughters were just in Atlanta for a Passion Conference. They were there over New Year's Eve and they saw a lot from the hotel to the streets of so many women looking for "jobs". It heart-sickened them. But indeed, someone's daughter ~ someone's son & how we need to continue to pray for the hedges around our children as well.

Linda said...

I think you were looking at them with His eyes. When I do that, it is difficult to see for the tears.

Connie Mace said...

so utterly sad...someone's daughter, someone's son...poor choices...consequences so tragic that only GOD can redeem them...if they would but let Him.

-t- said...

"she, someone's daughter. he, someone's son."

that's a lot to think on.

mamaface, linda and connie typed the words before i could find them...

Pat said...

Wow - powerful images conjuring up feelings of uncomfortableness.

Jake said...

Brian, who hasn't peed in public? TOTALLY kidding. Still, great story.

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Most of us have a similar moist-eyed memory.

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! Brian...
Thanks, for sharing a very sad recollection...I'm always mindful Of the fact, that could be me...that could happen to all Of us too!
All I can say is that I agree with all Of your previous commenter.
DeeDee ;-(

Zuzana said...

That is indeed a very dramatic and disturbing image to have imprinted in your consciousness. Your incredible way with words made this image ever so vivid in my mind as well...
There is so much suffering in the world and to be exposed to a fraction of it leaves an impression for a life time...
Luckily, images like these are rare or rather non existent in Scandinavia. I feel blessed for that...
Have a great Friday Brian,
xoxo

Just Be Real said...

Brian very touching. Thank you.

tony said...

One of the times we become part of an reluctant Invisible Audience.

Good Prose Brian.

Birdie said...

as hard and sad this story is, it's good that it made you uncomfortable - it does show your empathy Brian (but we all know that you do have a big sensitive heart :-)
happy day!

the walking man said...

It's easy to write about how this affects one as a reader. Think of the upside. He wasn't beating the crap out of her, they were both alive and in a mostly warm area. They were living their life as they knew it or wanted it to be free from the "rule and constricts" of civilized society.

Of all of us they may be the ones who are freest and most honest.

slommler said...

Those images do stick with you.
Haiti and shopping downtown when across the street a woman spreads her legs and relives herself right in the town square!! She had the most colorful dress on. What a mix of emotions I experienced with this sight!
Hugs
SueAnn

natalee said...

This is soooooo sad.... Thank you God for my life... and thanks Brian for helping me to be thankful

Tracy said...

Oh, my. Yes, I think it would be something you never forget. Sad to think this happens in "the greatest country in the world".

ModernMom said...

Oh dear!

Velvet Over Steel said...

Oh my goosh, that is so terribly sad! Heartbreaking that in this day and age & This country... there is still homelessness!! I wish more people would realise that no one 'wants' to live like this. Many times there is both abuse and mental illness that results in their homelessness & situation.

Thank you for sharing, Brain! I actually have another post started about homelessness for next week.

HUGS for sharing,
Coreen

lime said...

my goodness, that is an indelible image and it certainly makes you wonder what brought her to such a place.

Jannie Funster said...

I saw a guy pooping once.

whoops, tmi.

waaaaay too much tmi.

i guess he musta had the shits.

so, how 'bout those Knicks?? :) :)

xo

Jannie Funster said...

oh, it was 26 years ago. things stay with ya, eh.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Wow. How many emotions can one expect to feel from so few words? I felt pity, sadness, revulsion, compassion, fury, complacency, discomfort, embarrassment, and hopelessness.
Such a powerful story.
When I was a young teen, we lived (by our father's choice) in a poverty-stricken area of a poverty-stricken town, and he took us occasionally to help various people, many who were homeless. I remember one girl, probably not even twenty, who watched a man throw the contents from his tray at a hamburger joint into the trash can, ran over, stuck in her arm, and ran off with an armful of wrappers, fries, and remains of burgers.
I came to bring you your horse ratchet sauce, but that all seems so trivial now...

JStar said...

Your homeless story hit so close to hime....I was homeless and on this path...Until I picked myself up and did what I had to do to better myself...Most never get the chance to...

Otter Thomas said...

Disturbing and heartbreaking.

BLOGitse said...

Too familiar in Casa...
Have a good weekend!

Shadow said...

disturbing. absolutely!

5thsister said...

"hot sun cold on my skin..." Perfect ending that highlights the disturbing nature of this short story.

Unfortunately, as many have said above, we cannot help those who do not, yet, desire that help. But keep on offering...and praying is about all we can do.

Alice Audrey said...

And yet for her it was merely another moment in life, one less painful than others.

Dignity is a creation of the mind.

emily wierenga said...

oh this hurts me. i'm so glad you wrote it though. i need to be reminded of this, of all of sons and daughters needing father-love. thank you brian. poignant, as always.

Jill said...

That is a rough image.

Calli said...

This is disturbing, Brian, yet so well written.
Missed reading you and now I am reminded why that is so, and *smiles*...
~Calli

SuzyQ said...

So sad. A poignant post. Thank you for writing about her with compassion.
It can be so easy to fall into objective judgements over such scence. The hard truth is, under the right conditions, it could be any one of us.

Hilary said...

How very depressing. A mental image you can never erase.

AmyLK said...

Its one of those scenes that reminds you to be grateful for all that you have. Beautifully written as always!

joanny said...

So many tales of woe and hardship, and cruelty -- so much for "modern" society. SIGH!

joanny

Hope said...

powerful!
the line that sticks out to me the most is, 'she is someone's daughter, he is someone's son'

wonderful write
thank you

Jen said...

If this economy doesn't improve soon, we will see many more of these scenes...and it won't be just the lazy or crazy...

Maggie said...

I think we see this more often nowadays. Very sad. :(

Cheryl Smith said...

What a powerful retelling of the story! By the way, found your blog via Deidra Riggs at Jumping Tandem. She's a colleague of mine at TheHighCalling.org and suggested we connect. I live in the Burg too!

drybottomgirl said...

...and what do you do, what do you say? Except to remember how cruel the world can be...hoping you have a good weekend :)

Tom said...

eh
weirdness

Betty said...

imperfect prose? I don't think so.
wonderful imagery.

sheila said...

Definitely disturbing. But mostly very sad. In a country like ours, it's amazing that so many live "third world style".

gayle said...

What a sad story! There are way too many homeless people.

Mama Abby said...

oh! just met a family living out of their van (luxury compared to what you saw ) on our way down the east coast ...we did what we could...money for gas...lunch...they bore hope and smiles and faith...thankful for my husband's generous BEYOND heart to melt mine...

Lorraine said...

and now it will stick with me, as you write is so well

Graceful said...

Oh Brian, I have to say, this one will stick with me, too. You paint such a real picture with this story. I feel like I witnessed the scene myself.

Moannie said...

Heartbreaking story. Reminds of something we saw in Mexico...but then somehow it is not such a shock...almost the norm there.

There but for the grace of....?

Cheryl said...

Homelessness is so up in your face in the city. I think we all need a day in the city to remind us how fortunate we are.

Sh@s said...

Disturbing picture but you have well brought out the pathos of these people.
Keep up the good work :)

nsiyer said...

Painful but real. Well written.

Felicitas said...

Life can be harsh. What would be harsher, though, is witnessing such a scene and NOT being affected by it.

Brian, your vision and your words as always are sublime!

Maggie May said...

What a way to live. Very sad.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

secret agent woman said...

Mental illness? Addiction? An escape from a hellish childhood? Those are the sorts of things that always cross my mind.

California Girl said...

there but for the grace of God...

Liza Ursu said...

This piece is alive Brian.
I can't help but think of the scene of the two of you sitting there, mouths agape, speechless.
This piece should be filmed.

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Marla said...

So absolutely disturbing. Thanks for sharing this.

I hope I'm ready for this and more.