THE HOBO

112

It was 1971, I met a hobo in far North Texas. I was living in a Christian commune and we were giving food to anyone who came knocking. This was not a young man. He had long ago accepted gravity. Had fallen and kept falling and kept falling and kept falling. Everything about him was the color of road dust, except his eyes were slivers of a meteorite that long ago hit the ground but still was burning. His shoes were beaten dogs. Insulated with newspaper, the soles tied on with twine.  And the ball cap he wore had a bill replaced with a curve of cardboard tied on with the same twine that secured his shoes.

I offered him what we had, a kind of chicken feed cooked up as cereal. That and stale doughnuts, always a favorite. And after he had eaten I tried to do my duty, talk to him about the love of God but the man interrupted me and said, “I’m neutral about that.” Pointing to the world outside the window, he said, “I’m neutral about everything. I’m neutral about that rock.”

Forty-eight years passed and I am able now to take his meaning as my own.

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