Caterpillar

Caterpillar

Over fifty scraps lie scattered across from the mission
and Salvation Army in Raleigh’s Moore Square. A cop
on horseback does not pick up. A skinny man heads
west on Person, his shoulder bag is a red square around
a black square. The nautical flag for hurricanes comes to
mind, as Mrs. Miller’s fourth grade runs a Frisbee relay, ten
yards removed from the daily horrors of homelessness. Now
Norm, purple-shirted attendant, starts to sweep trash, dump
trash, and greet the park’s residents with a cheery “good morning.”
It’s 40 ounces, a Newport pack, toothpaste boxes, Styrofoam
cups. “It’s messier than usual today,” he gimps on his way to
another litter zone. Miller’s museum magnet kids are already
back inside when three empty school busses and an empty
trolley motor past. This reminds you of the sixty busses you saw
parked under water in New Orleans, and the white cops who
wouldn’t let black residents flee Katrina’s flood, and the
traumatic gait Norm still succumbs to while picking up trash,
and the four-year-old boy holding the bottle that feeds his baby
sister, and the sign at Denny’s offering a chance to contribute to
the hurricane fund, and the caterpillar currently crawling up your
leg, just needing a friend. You remove another caterpillar, the wind
gusts, and another man in purple walks through Oak’s mud, backpack
full to brimming, striding quickly, nowhere to go. Brown caterpillar returns
for a third visit. “What makes you so special?” you think, rising to leave.

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2005. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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