Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Failed Compassion

I saw you 
sitting there in your truck
in the middle
of the empty parking lot.

We were there
by chance,
switching drivers,
my son taking the wheel
for the short drive home.

You didn't notice us.

I sat still in the passenger seat,
watched you
rub your face
and wipe at your eyes.

Were you in pain?
Were you trapped in a memory
that would not let you go?
Were you waiting for a sign
of better days to come?

I longed to be
the kind of person
to get out of my car,
to reach out,
to ask,
"Are you okay?"

But I am not courageous like that.

Instead I sat 
and watched
and wondered
and felt.

We drove away,
leaving you there
my heart silently breaking
for your untold suffering.


  1. While I'm good at asking people in school if they are OK in this situation (even if I don't know them well) I would not be comfortable outside of there. I don't think. But especially in the situation you describe, with the person in their vehicle. I think they have an expectation of privacy in that case and I would probably not say anything

    1. I don't think I was wrong not to approach him. I just feel sad that fear holds us back from offering compassion when we think it might be needed.

  2. Beautiful poem, so heartfelt. I think I would have done what you did...wondered, but didn't act. In this day and age, for your own safety and your family's safety, you have to be cautious about approaching strangers. Sad, but true. ~JudyK

    1. Not doing anything was arguably the right thing to do. But it makes me a little sad to think another human being might have been suffering and there was no one to help them.

  3. You really captured this moment with your poem. I can feel your emotion as well as his. I always wonder, from afar, what other people are going through as well.

  4. Powerful piece. You are right: not doing anything was arguably the right choice. And yet.... I too want to be the kind of person who doesn't have fear in this situation, who reaches out and tries to connect. Beautiful writing.

    1. Thank you, Elisabeth. When I wrote it, I was simply thinking about that particular moment, but once I was finished, it seemed to take on a deeper meaning for me. I am glad it spoke to you. :)

  5. The craft and message of this poem are so strong. Lean words explain everything.

  6. Your beautiful words show what you were feeling.


Your comments are welcomed and appreciated!