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Blinded by the Light

By Doris Dembosky, Westcliffe, CO

Slowing to a stop at an intersection,
I wait for a green light.
A homeless woman, old before her time,
stands at arm’s length; she stands too close.
She could reach out and touch my car
if she chose to do so.
She looks at me.
She dares me to look at her.
I look straight ahead.I can’t help but see the woman,
but I don’t dare look.

Hunched, she huddles inside a worn winter coat.
A bitter wind whips her skirt about her bare legs.
She wears sneakers but no socks.

Swaying from side to side,
she shifts her weight –
to warm herself … to ease her leg pain?
What do I know?

The light is still red.
Like a dentist’s drill, her desperation bores
through to my core.
If I meet her gaze,
I may sizzle like bacon
on a hot skillet.
I sink deeper into my heated seat.

One hand is in her coat pocket.
Her other hand holds a sign:
“I will do anything for food.”

My watch stops. Now I’m cold.