The Corner of First and Amistad, by Juhi Gupta

across the street there is a
Man with only one leg and He
leans on a brick wall with a
cigarette in His hand and when
He asks me if i want a smoke His
mouth curls up with just the slightest
twitch as He tries to fix His nape
to the mortar behind Him. “no thank
You” i choke and am unsure if it is
a result of His gray breath or of
the way His words roll off His tongue.

there is a canvas sack on a metal bin
next to Him and He caresses it like a
member of His family that just happens
to be sitting in a cold alleyway in the
dark. the burning ash nears His chapped
lips and the blood stains almost catch
fire when He shuffles over and spits
into his brother’s chair the remains of
the fire in His no doubt soot lungs.

He leans His head back and lets out
a rumbling laugh and i am suddenly
taking an instinctive step back because
i have always been taught to avoid the
bitterness of His voice. “these are the
People who rot” i hear my mother
calling from the other side of the street
and the trash can i came to find is no
longer something that i can see.

***
About “The Corner of First and Amistad”: As a child, I always fantasized about the tangible presence of a higher power on Earth. The notion that sanctity could reside in the common man, and that sainthood could be bestowed regardless of aesthetic, blurred the traditional moral dichotomy between good and evil to which I was accustomed. In this poem, I wanted to capture the poignant image depicted in the opening lines of The Fray’s “You Found Me” – an impression of genuine spirituality in the everyday dweller that I internalized at a young age.

Juhi Gupta is a student journalist, amateur photographer, and aspiring writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has garnered recognition from the Journalism Education Association, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and the National Federation of Press Women, among others. She currently resides on the editorial board of two literary magazines and interns at The Prospect.

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