A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
A few afternoons ago I was standing at the corner of Carson and 19th in the Southside waiting for the light to change. To my right, a young man in a Pittsburgh Steelers cap crossed 19th, pulling a pair of gloves out of his jacket when a black and yellow scarf fell out of his pocket into the middle of the street. Not realizing he had dropped it, he kept walking. I called to him, Sir! Sir! You dropped something! But he didn’t hear me and kept walking. A middle-aged blonde woman on the opposite corner looked at me wondering what I was yelling about and I said He dropped his scarf! And pointed. She turned toward the young man who was already twenty yards down the block and yelled at him, but he didn’t hear her; however, an old African American man noticed her and yelled at the young man who kept walking on, oblivious to the chain of alarm behind him. Trying to get his attention, I yelled Black Hat! Black Hat! And the blonde woman and the old man picked up the cry Black Hat! Black Hat! and the young man turned. The old man pointed at the blonde woman and she signaled the young man to come back to the corner. Which he did — he started walking back, puzzled. The blonde woman held up her hand to stop the traffic, walked into the street, picked up the scarf and returned it to the young man who smiled, turned and continued on his way. I have no idea whether the scarf was important to the young man, or whether he would have missed it at all, but it was a moving experience for me to be cooperating in this small gesture of kindness. The old man and the blonde woman smiled and waved at me, and I felt a surge of gratitude to be among such decent people in this lovely city in a dark time when the light of kindness seems so rare.
Copyright 2020 Michael Simms