Being thorough, I remove a holey sock
to view a diabetic man’s filthy feet.
I use the time to complete our talk
of what drove him to live on the street
as I wonder how any of this can help.
While he tells me more of his medical past,
I run warm water into a stainless bowl.
I immerse both his feet and begin to ask
myself what good it does for this poor soul
to allow himself to undergo this ablution.
Silently I sluice the water between his toes
and soap the crusty callous at his heel.
I marvel at his arch and notice how closely
it fits my palm. I know he can feel
this proximity too. He shuts his eyes.
Months of useless layers peel away,
revealing layers useless weeks ago.
Removing the tough brown hide of yesterday
yields clean pink skin, but we both know
this ritual will be useless days from now.
Still, this moment may withstand time’s test,
teaching us each lessons unknown before.
I learn the medicine of selflessness.
He learns what medicine is really …