Two Feet

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI step out of our comfortable New York city hotel, grimacing slightly when my feet hit the pavement after yesterday’s touristy 27,000+ steps. Walking up to Starbucks for my morning Americano, I look up, admiring the light glinting off the tops of the buildings, noticing new stonework details, enjoying the early morning pulse of the city. 

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I turn after crossing the street and notice two feet, peeking out from beneath a blue blanket. A man sleeps against a building at the edge of the sidewalk. His two feet are clearly visible…pale and clean…surprisingly clean. Where are his shoes? Does he have shoes? I imagine them clutched to his chest, held safely, though I can’t see beneath his blanket.

Two feet. That’s all I can see. In my mind I frame them, those two feet swaddled in blue, and snap a picture. I think of baby pictures, those sweet shots that zoom in on tiny hands or feet nestled in the folds of a blanket. I wonder who once washed these feet. When did this man’s path go astray? What steps has he taken to arrive in this place? Are there loved ones who worry for him? Who tried their best? Or did their worst?

Two feet. A blue blanket. A New York sidewalk.

And then I walk by him and continue on my way.
How many others will do the same today?

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13 thoughts on “Two Feet

  1. dmsherriff says:

    “the early morning pulse of the city” – great line filled with feeling. Such contrast between the hopeful early morning and the sudden bare feet. Love all the questions you had and captured.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amy Warntz says:

    The beauty of this post is in the simplicity and the power of words. Or, perhaps the power of emotions being stirred. I’m not sure. What I do know is that I finished reading this post reflecting on life – my life, the lives of others.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. marilynyung says:

    Yes, how do people find themselves on a sidewalk under a blanket? So much to ponder. What a contrast to what I expected to read in your post! We travelled to Venice (https://marilynyung.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/10-things-you-will-find-in-venice-in-march/) in March and noticed a similar (sort of) situation in the beggar women. Not sure how/if it connects, but that’s what came to my mind as I read your description. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks for sharing the link, Marilyn. I really enjoyed reading your Venetian list and was intrigued and impressed by how much you conveyed in that format.

      Liked by 1 person

      • marilynyung says:

        Thank you! I may have students do a similar list as a back to school project/assignment. A list may be a less intimidating way for some kids to get back into writing.

        Like

  4. Powerful post. How you connected his two feet back to those two footed baby pictures was amazing! It is always disturbing to see the homeless and wondering what brought them to that state. I remember travelling to Philadephia some years ago with our boys and preparing them to see homeless on the streets, even sleeping like this man was. We stayed downtown and walked everywhere for three whole days! Surprisingly, we did not see many of the sights you described. Thank you for providing a reason to be thankful on this Independence Day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There is so much we take for granted. This experience is a reminder of that, of all we are blessed with, and of the relatively uncomplicated paths most of our lives take. I am always torn as to what to do when approaching similar situations, and I always wonder what led to that point in their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      There was another moment in NYC when I saw a man casually approach a woman on the street and hand her a Starbucks bag with a breakfast sandwich inside. There was another story there…

      Like

  6. Sonia says:

    Your photo looks like Broadway on the Upper West Side, near where I live. Perhaps I saw the same man you did today, because I saw two men, on different blocks, sleeping on the sidewalk, one without shoes, another with his shoes off but nearby (I hope no one took them). Thank you for your thoughtful response. I often think the men sleeping on the street are there because they are afraid to go to a shelter, which can be dangerous or simply too crowded, and hot.

    And I hope you have a good visit to our city. If you haven’t been there yet, visit the Cloisters, in upper Manhattan. A very peaceful place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Sonia–I had a wonderful visit to NYC and wish I’d realized the Cloisters were close. I had them in mind when I visited but never did get around to figuring out how to get there. I was busy with the TC Summer Reading Institute and just happy to be walking the streets. Oh–and you’re right! My hotel was on 77th near Broadway and I walked up (down?) Broadway to 75th for my morning coffee each day.

      Like

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