10-Line Tuesday

August 1, 2017

the empathy museum

Begin with the closest specimens: discards you find on your walk
to get more roast beef for the kids. Notice the optimistic colors of cast-off soda bottles,
the way a crushed cigarette pack bears the mark of both desperation and relief,
how the imprints of teeth on school pencils remind you of the infinite horror
of standardized tests. Soon, your eye will fan out to the frayed collar of the man
on the corner asking for spare change, the missing hubcap of the car broken down
on the busy highway, the look of sheer exhaustion the Target cashier can't hide
despite the careful cheer of her greeting. This is when it will dawn on you, all those places
you'd rather ignore but where, in fact, your gaze is needed most, rooms housing another's
shadowy narrative, and the doors you must walk through to lead you out of your own.