by Kathleen O’Toole
His name is John, dapper in denim jacket
and shades, standing with his white cane
at the entrance to the Union Station Metro,
where he greets streams of commuters
he can only hear passing by: Good morning!
Good morning! Feeling their busy breeze.
For once today, I have time, take time
to stop, to talk to John, find out who he is
and ask what brings him to the station.
Life’s been hard…but I’m not bitter, he offers.
Turns out he came up north from Carolina
decades ago. In ninety-eight, he was working
on his car, when the battery exploded, blinding him in both eyes. Now I notice
the scars. He wants to know my name.
Though he’s not holding out a cup, or asking
for spare change, I press a few bills into his palm:
for coffee. He insists on giving me a hug
with thanks for stopping, though I don’t know
why I did, on this particular day.
I’ve always loved the parable of Jesus
and Bartimaeus, how in Mark’s account
the blind beggar calls out, makes a ruckus
so Jesus and the disciples could not miss
seeing him. Jesus assumes nothing,
instead takes the time to ask the man:
What do you want me to do for you?
Bartimaeus’ reply: Teacher, I want
to see. So, in the end, Jesus credits
the blind man with the miracle.