Sorrow for a Stranger

Written by: Katie Telling

He sits down, alone,
in a cheap, plastic booth
at a fast-food joint,
and leans his cane 
against the table.
His right leg appears boneless,
just a loose appendage
hanging from his hip socke,
that he has to drag around.
He eats his hamburger
that he ordered off of
the dollar menu,
and moves on to his kid-sized
chocolate milkshake.
As he gets down to the last
few sips,
he struggles to keep the cup still
on the table.
He shakily lifts up his right arm
so that he can hold the cup with one hand
and guide the straw with the other,
but like his leg, his right arm
is limp and lifeless,
rendering his hand useless.

Sorrow begins to claw 
at my open heart,
eroding any emotional strength
that may have existed before.
I am overwhelmed 
at the sight of this fragile old man,
sitting alone in a fast-food joint,
struggling to make his body cooperate.
I can feel tears crawling
into my eyes and trying to escape
down my cheek.
Even though he might be
perfectly content in his life,
I feel this desire to help him,
and tell him he's not alone,
and that the aching pangs of loneliness
are familiar to me too.