He was young once—
brown eyed, dewy cheeks
Now aged, he sits at my table
sometimes sunshine
knells through window
other days, rain stings against
glass. I am repulsed
by thorny complaints
gruff laugh, swollen bitterness
I do not respond
push him from my concern
But today discarding
sour words squeezing into
sighs and fears, a door inside
of me falls open

A different response
traverses my heart.
Complaints and sneers
take on different timbre
Am I seeing with mercy eyes?
Am I feeling
with compassion ears?

I look through his watery amber eyes
begin to see clues holding raw pain
My timid smile greets him
my head tilts
I ask him to stay on
heat kettle water
offer a cup of tea
look into still-wide-glaring
behold a frightened child
I must invite to play hop-scotch
coax to sing “Three Blind Mice”
Curious to know what some fun
might have done
had we shared it back then

Marianne Lyon taught music for 43 years. After teaching in Hong Kong, she returned to the Napa Valley. She is published in various literary magazines including Ravens Perch, TWJM Magazine, and Indiana Voice Journal. Nominated for the Pushcart prize in 201, she is a member of the California Writers Club, and Adjunct Professor at Touro University, California.