My father and I drive by a homeless man, who stands by the red light with his hands
cupped out, fingers exposed—that January air—and my father rolls down the window to
give him a five, telling me he’s learned it’s better to give money than nothing at all.
As we get on the exit ramp for 495, I tell him about the man I saw in Annapolis the other
day, who was kicking a light post, screaming and weeping. When I saw him I locked my
doors, the way my mother does whenever she sees a dark man walk by. It’s one of those
things I always chastised her for—that electric click, locking door—
What would’ve happened, if I opened my door, gave him money, or maybe some
crackers from my purse? If I embraced him, or bought him some gloves? Would he have
hit me? Grabbed my purse, and ran? Or would he have clung to me, his arms going limp
as he continued to weep?
I am a woman and this is what I have been taught: there are some things that shouldn’t be
risked. I don’t want to test the angels, I say.
My father says: you should be concerned, I’m glad we raised you right.
Our conversation goes silent, as if a solution has been found.
Out the window, it smells like snow and diesel. The sky, overcast like a ceiling. What a
living room this median makes—
My father makes a business call, and right now, I can’t stop thinking about the parable of
the tenant: the owner knows there will be consequences for the message he gives his
servants, yet who finally says:
I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.
Could he have known he would find his son dead at the hands of those workers? He must
have, because we all know who was the father in the parable, and who was the son—and
who am I, to worry about safety when that same Book says He will even feed sparrows?
Because if that Father were a man who valued safety, the hand of God would linger like a
dark forever veil between us and our home.