How can we be One?





How can we be One when I am me and you are you?
How can we be One when we are separate; through and through?
How can we be One when you are rich and I am poor?
How can we be One when you’re a Saint and I’m a whore?
 
You live in Bible stories.  You’re a very famous man.
I live on flattened cardboard in a rusty transit van.
You’ve touched the hearts of millions and your stories lead the way.
My stories are a catalogue of things I’ve done for pay.
 
Yesterday I had a bath.  I felt so good and clean
Walking through the city; not embarrassed to be seen.
The shelter had been kind.  They’d let me wash my clothes and eat,
I’d even slept some hours on a mattress with a sheet.
 
So, walked I through the city wearing clothes that didn’t stink.
And on my way to somewhere I could get a decent drink
I saw a woman crying on a corner by a church.
Her soul was dry and shrunken but she didn’t stop the search.
 
She often tried to feed it from a needle or a pipe.
But today she was a battered plum; bruised and over ripe.
She leant upon the polished brass.  I watched her kiss the name
Of our holy virgin mother, who loves all of us the same.
 
I watched the woman’s spirit break.  I watched her pain release.
And then I watched in horror as the Reverend called the police.
I could see him through the window of his cosy little den.
And once he’d called them, he sat down to read the Book again.
 
I hurried over, quickly, to the woman and her pain.
I took her by the hand – there was not time to explain.
And as we turned the corner, we could hear the sirens scream.
The woman looked at me as if I’d broken through her dream.
 
“Who are you?” she whispered through a mouth of dirty teeth.
I could not answer her as we walked across the heath.
So I just smiled warmly, with the sun upon my face.
And in that single moment I was full of Heaven’s grace.
 
I kissed her hand and gave her twenty pounds that I had found,
Folded up and trodden on, that morning on the ground.
“What d’you want for this?  I can blow you good…” she said.
“No thank you,” I replied.  “It’s for a meal and a bed.
 
“There’s a homeless shelter over there,” I pointed through the trees.
And they rustled as if calling, though it could have been the breeze.
She walked away in stillness.  When she’d gone I sat and cried.
Something in my heart had briefly woken.  Now it’s died;
 
Heaven’s grace has gone and left me, on the heath, alone.
I wish that one good deed could lift a heart that’s turned to stone.
I wish that homeless bird could dry my tears with a kiss.
A moment’s taste of saintliness but, still, we’re back to this:
 
How can we be One when I am me and you are you?
How can we be One when we are separate; through and through?
How can we be One when I am rich and you are poor?
How can we be One when I’m a Saint and you’re a whore?
 
Wednesday 28th September 2011 © Simon Welsh Poetry
 
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