The Unbending – Incurvatus in se
My salvation meets me every week.
A beggar from back lots
where tropical rains beat him
’cause he was born,
or brotherless, or broken.
From narrow, charred, fetid back lanes
where garbage-pickers are kings,
with same rail I grasp,
the beggar hauls to his perch
at the top of the stairs.
My eyes fasten on him
each step bringing me further
from the natural law
which seals my pockets up—
grasping God’s money as if I made it.
I climb this altar of need
to be shaken out of my mixed-up middle class money
and all the options that go with it.
From the rail to my hand,
from his hand to the rail
came the dirt from the lots.
The rail is my trail to freedom,
I return home with dirtied hands, softened soul.
Plunging filthy hands in the sink,
I watch hot water erase
stains from the lanes
and entertain the ease of ancient castes:
simple responsibility without strain.
Yet I sense the Adamic stain which daily spreads
and the guttural cry from my soul
when it turns in on itself:
God won’t turn me inside out
but He’s got me a date with the beggar
to unbend me from myself.
– A Charity Higgins Johnson