Up near the northern border of North Dakota
the third day of an arctic blizzard, a social worker
loads her hatchback with jackets and coats
and drives the frontage road beside a frozen river.
She comes to a man wrapped in a hospital blanket
seated on cardboard on top of a bed of snow.
He doesn’t want the jacket she offers.
“Then I can take you to shelter,” she says.
“No,” replies the man.
I’m listening to news, sipping wine as I cook.
Sideways snowflakes streak the dusk.
The journalist wraps his piece: “Some homeless
are mentally ill; some are clinically depressed;
many have been previously hospitalized.”
The-man-who-would-freeze hijacks the evening.
Bold exit or compact with hell freezing over?
Might suicide be a pilgrimage towards the light?
He’s lodged in my conscience now, but he isn’t talking.
(Image derived from photo by WoodleyWonderWorks)