by Julianne Lepp
His sunburnt face splits a grin
like splitting a ripe tomato
the words fall out of his mouth
fresh with pain, flavored
with a deep southern drawl.
He repeats my name again,
Hoping help like cool water can soothe and refresh.
Hoping, yet tired.
I share my coffee. The first he's had in three days.
He rode the train, spent the night on a bench
a spider bite wells up his arm like the poison of his
situation. Words slur and he repeats my name.
I walk him into the arms of an under-staffed clinic.
I have to release him – yet
his name rests on my dresser
resting amid multi-colored sticky notes of all
the names I simply can't
delegate to a trash can.
a makeshift altar.
Like prayer flags they catch my eyes
each morning upon rising.
Chaplain, can you help me?
He repeats my name.