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Posts Tagged ‘homelessness’

This past spring I met a man in Boston Common.  He sings.

I don’t remember if he had an instrument in-hand that first meeting. Most striking were his looks and that voice. Skin as dark as night. A scraggly beard and bushy eyebrows, all white as snow.  His voice carried across the park.  A gentle rumble.  Bass, perhaps.  Imagine Paul Robeson in sound.

“Can anyone spare some change? Can anyone spare some change? Can anyone spare some chaaaaaange?”

At first I ignored him.  I generally have no spare change.  And I have mixed feelings about giving money to panhandlers.

“Can anyone spare some change? Can anyone spare some change? Can anyone spare some chaaaaaange?”

But then one day we made eye contact.  It has been ingrained that if eye contact is made with a stranger no words need be exchanged but at a minimum try to nod in greeting.  And so I did.

“Can anyone spare some … ooooh … Does anyone have a pretty smile?  Does anyone have a pretty smile?”

Ever since that moment, when our paths cross in the Common, which is not very often, he will change his song for me.

“Oh there’s that pretty smile.  There’s that pretty smile.”

I know I can’t be the only one he does this for.  I have yet to place coins in his cup, but he sure does make me feel like I brighten his day.  At some point, I shall have to tell him that the sound of his voice brightens mine.

Footnote 1:  Checkout the blog Lust & Rum by photographer Anton Brookes.  There, he shares pictures that are heartbreaking and deeply moving of the homeless on the streets of NYC.  Following his photographic journey helps remind me to keep my eyes open to those sights I might like to ignore.

Footnote 2: If you’ve not heard the voice of Paul Robeson, you can hear a sample via the following 1 minute and 22 second clip.  Enjoy.

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