Where Hillsborough meets Enterprise Street,
Where perhaps we boldly go where we have not gone before,
An orange and blue sign, “Sadlack’s Heroes,”
We are sad, we lack,
And we are heroes – all there is of heroism, at any rate –
Despite our unhappy incompleteness, or because of.
I passed a dusty woman, and something brought me back again.
I spent a couple dollars on fries, blue cheese dressing on the side, and a diet coke for Caroline,
I spent a couple moments sitting on a rock wall by the sidewalk,
The evening traffic bustling by
The bicycle locked to a No Parking sign
Beneath the larger sign, Sadlack’s Heroes.
Caroline declined my offer to get a bagel,
Showing me the molars she said could not chew it.
Between bites of fries, she peeled off her left shoe and sock
Showing me the yellow and red reasons that it hurt so much to walk.
At last, the bicycle and I rolled away from Caroline,
And the sign of sadly lacking heroes.
Later, in my house, as I ready for bed,
Standing on pink feet, toothbrush in hand,
It occurs to me to that I might think I am so fortunate
Compared to Caroline.
It is clear that I am not.
* * * * * * *
During 2001-02, LK and I lived in Raleigh, NC. I spent that year taking classes at Shaw University Divinity School (washed in the SUDS) and Clinical Pastoral Education: a unit at Wake Med, a unit at John Ulmstead Psychiatric Hospital, and then another unit at Wake Med. During the Wake Med unit, I biked six miles from home to hospital, and six back. This poem describes an encounter that happened one day while biking home from a day of CPE at Wake Med.