zianuray. It also fills the "abuse" square on my first card for the Hurt/Comfort Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.
The Traveler does not touch money:
he is very clear about this.
He does not earn it or spend it.
He trades only in time and gifts
and the kindness of strangers.
They are all strangers to begin with,
but they do not stay that way for long.
They are bemused at first,
when they meet him,
all shaggy hair and faded jeans
and flannel sleeves flapping over his hands.
He is clean, though, smelling of sunshine
and wild places even in the suburbs.
His voice is soft and gentle,
his hazel eyes warm,
and a smile curving his full lips.
The Traveler never hesitates
if there are messy chores to do --
he has changed diapers
and mucked out stalls,
delivered a couple of babies,
painted portraits and houses,
and once, shampooed a woman's rug
after the suicide of her husband
because she couldn't afford to replace it.
When Thomas comes home
from college one day
and abruptly remembers how
his uncle abused him for years,
the Traveler puts down the porch broom
and holds the young man close
while he cries himself to sleep.
The next day, Thomas tells his roommates
that the Traveler always has space on the couch
and they all nod agreement because
they don't want to do what he did for Thomas.
It's not the first time nor the last;
the Traveler sees that sort of thing
wherever he goes.
He happens to be in the neighborhood
when Jenny's husband blacks her eyes
and then tears off in their new truck
never to be heard from again.
So the Traveler picks up the house key
from where it was thrown at her feet
and tucks it tenderly into her pocket,
then settles her on the couch
with a towel full of ice on her face
while he goes to the kitchen to cook supper.
The Traveler has a couch
in Jenny's house too.
He has couches from California
to New York and most of the states
scattered in between, because
even without a car of his own
he's always on the move,
transport by shank's mare
or hitchhiking or whatever
seems easiest at the time.
He stays as long as he's needed --
a few days or a few weeks --
and then moves on.
The Traveler has no job
and doesn't need one.
There is always work for willing hands
and he's good at finding it;
there are always strangers in need of kindness,
but they won't stay strangers for long.