The Lingering Smile

November 21, 2010
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Sitting on the cool leather car seat, I see a boy
who squats on a pile of plastic bags and empty water bottles.

The torn rags wrap his fragile body,
like a band aid placed on an open wound.

The waves of the blistering heat surround the boy,
and the thirst seems to clench his throat tightly.

His deep, brown eyes overflow with tears of pain –
The pain he wakes with, the pain he sleeps with.

I see the way he suffers, the way he starves, the way he begs
in the world outside my bed, my house, my neighborhood.

Bakshish Madam.
His crusted lips repeat again and again, the only words he knows.

He stares at bronze circles placed in his hand,
securing them tightly as he runs

to devour and relish and retrieve
his lost ability to taste

The thin glass divides the cold, breathless reality,
between myself and the Bengali boy.

He has no possession, no house, no money
nothing but a smile

I feel no sympathy,
But with admiration I look upon

the boy who fights the war every day
against his pain, sorrow, and hunger.

He simply departs with a smile,
vanishing back to the slums,

leaving me by myself,
a smile lingering on my face.





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