Only A Man . . .


A young couple, smiling, talking, laughing,
arms loaded with Christmas presents,
took no notice of the old woman.
A mother with two small children hurried by,
on their way to grandmother's house.
They took no notice.
A minister walked by proudly
carrying his Bible in his right hand,
like a well armed Christian soldier.
But his mind was stayed on heavenly things,
and he took no notice.
If these people had noticed,
they would have seen that the old woman wore no shoes.
She walked barefoot in the ice and snow.

With both hands the old woman
 gathered her worn button-less overcoat
 at the collar to keep out the wind.
She stopped and stood bent
and bowed at the bus stop.
A red and blue scarf covering her head,
she waited for the downtown bus.
A gentleman carrying an important looking briefcase
waited near her, not too closely.
After all, she could have something contagious.
A teen-age girl also waited for the bus.
She glanced repeatedly at the old woman's feet,
 but said nothing.

The bus arrived and the old woman slowly,
painfully boarded.
She sat on the side-ways seat just behind the driver.
The gentleman and the teen-age girl hurried to the rear.
The man sharing the seat with the old woman
shuffled uneasily and twirled his thumbs.
he thought.
The bus driver saw her bare feet and thought;
 "This neighborhood is sinking deeper and deeper into poverty,
I hate to see it,
 I'll be glad when they put me on the College Park route."
A little boy pointed at the old woman.
"Look, Mother, that old lady is barefoot."
The embarrassed mother slapped his hand down.
"Don't point at people, Andrew.
It's not polite to point." She looked out the window.

At the next stop, a young man boarded the bus.
He wore a heavy blue jacket,
a maroon scarf around his neck,
and a gray woolen cap pulled down over is ears.
 A wire running under the cap
and into his ear was connected to a Walkman.
The young man jiggled his body
in time to music only he heard.
He paid his fare and plopped down on the sideways seat
 directly across from the old woman.
As the young man's glance caught the old woman's bare feet,
His jiggling stopped. He froze.
His eyes went from her feet to his.
He wore his expensive, new,
brand name sneakers.
For months he had saved from his minimum wage pay
to buy these sneakers.
Everybody in the gang would think he was "so cool."

The young man bent down
and began to untie his sneakers.
He removed his impressive new sneakers.
He removed his socks.
He knelt down before the old woman.
"Mother," he said,
 "I see you have no shoes. Well, I have shoes."
Carefully, gently, he lifted the old woman's crusty feet in his hands.
He placed his socks and his fine sneakers on the old woman's feet.
 The old woman nodded in thanks.
Just then the bus arrived at the next stop.
The young man left the bus and walked away,
 barefoot in the snow.

The passengers crowded at the windows
 to watch him as he plodded barefoot through the snow.
"Who is he?" one asked.

"He must be a prophet," said another.

"He must be a saint," someone suggested.

"He must be an angel," said yet another.

"Look! There's a halo around his head," somebody shouted.

"He must be the Son of God," said the Christian lady.

But the little boy who had pointed, said,
"No Mother, I saw him clearly, He was

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