Second Thought

The beggar is shaking a plastic cup
The coins dancing inside, making music
The lyric says drop money in so I can eat.
I avert my eyes and continue past,
Watching my breath in the cold
Looking back to see the poor man
Sitting on blankets
Still rattling the cup.
I touch my pocket to see if I have change
A quarter or two after my coffee
But I'm already several paces away
And I don't want to backtrack.
Guilt wraps its hands around my neck
Slipping its cold fingers under my scarf
I've been judged.
I double back to where the man sits
Still asking for money, desperate, demeaned.
I stand in front of him to ensure he sees me
Dig the coins out of my pocket
Lean down
Drop them purposefully
One at a time
Inside his cup.
I feel good.
He looks up at me and nods.
He says, I saw you walk by and knew you'd be back.
I turn and move quickly away
Afraid I've been discovered
A fraud
A giver only on second thought.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: John Manuel

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