Last night, a homeless man politely propositioned me for cash at a gas station.
I held up a fistful of ones and told him we’d dragged the seat cushions for these,
and I couldn’t spare any
and he politely said
no worries sweetheart,
Inside I handed over eleven dollars to the Sikh cashier,
and watched the homeless man standing against the cold.
while my husband pumped gas I rummaged through a canvas bag full of Hanukkah leftovers.
Returned to the homeless man with a glass container
and asked him if he was hungry
yes, he said
and I apologized that the latkes were greasy
he tugged his glove off and accepted the leftovers into his palms
and said thank you
and I replaced the lid and said you’re welcome.
As we drove away into the dark I rubbed my oil slick fingers together
and caught myself feeling relieved for having allayed my guilt
over having more
rather than less
and thus descended into a hyper-intellectual narrative
about privilege and inequity
and altruism and leftovers
Then it occurred to me
that the homeless man’s fingers were slick with the same cooking oil
and our bellies now held the same food
and that maybe it was enough to leave it at that