The man in the red fedora,
Seated on the sidewalk,
Legs stretched and ankles crossed,
Leaning on his plastic bags
Of necessities and mysteries,
His clothes as stained and faded
As his teeth and his memories,
Assured me, as I walked by,
That I was looking good.
Oh, gentle reader, understand
That I am versed in flattery’s ways.
I know that kindness often comes
Burdened with cost or even debt.
I understand that gentle words
Can melt the stiffness in us
Like the wick beside the wax.
But it was without pause or doubt
I handed him a few loose bills.
We smiled in sweet conspiracy.
The transaction completed,
He turned his attention to the next passerby,
Who he observed was looking good as well.
And yet I have no grievance to report.
It was an oddly warm November day.
The sidewalk, still moist from a night of rain,
Baked in the sun and steamed beneath its heat.
The avenue was crowded thick with souls,
And maybe we all looked good after all.
I do know this. The red fedora man
Who gave out grace and smiles for spare change
Was selling love on cheap, and worth the price.
Between us his the vastly greater gift.
I helped him buy a little wine or food.
He welcomed me into his neighborhood.
And, may I say, that man was looking good.