Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Confession: Giving Away

In Stories, secrets & dreams on February 16, 2014 at 6:02 pm


I usually give away food – leftovers from a restaurant or bread that’s getting old at the house. I usually make sure I have something on my person to give away – a granola bar, an orange – so I don’t have to feel so bad when I walk by people who are hungry. It does more for me than them, to feel kind. I know it’s not much of a sacrifice, more of a thought, a good intention. But I’ve gotten compulsive about it – looking in likely places for needy people. I’m on the lookout for the poor – begging at subway stops, sleeping in laundromats, collecting plastic bottles and cans from the trash. I’ve gotten compulsive to the point that I give away food that’s not mine – my roommate’s leftover pita, that bag of Famous Amos cookies I picked up from the office. I know they won’t miss them: my roommate will let the pita go stale; the office ladies won’t touch the cookies because they’re on diets.

I want to give something extraordinary – a pot of striped tulips or a stained-glass window – something gratuitous and wonderful: a swan carved out of ice, like those centerpieces on luxury cruise buffets, an Austrian harpsichord, a vellum shred of a gnostic gospel, a submarine paddle boat, a remote-control mechanical butterfly. Or would I keep that for myself? What about my notebook with all those scribbles I dream of turning into a novel someday? Could I give that away – something so precious to me and probably useless to a man on the street? Imagine what he’d do with it, and what I’d do without it – my other compulsion besides giving away food, not writing, but scribbling in a notebook. Would he be disappointed or delighted? Would he tell a story about it – maybe to the guys playing chess in Washington Square Park? Would they read my notes aloud? Would they make fun of me? Would he drop it in a puddle and let the ink words blur in the rain, leave it as debris in the wet leaves? Or would he try to decipher me? Would he make a mystery of the scrawls, or even a ritual? hang the pages out to dry – take the words and parts of words that didn’t blur, the pages that didn’t blow away, and make found poems out of them? or images? Or something even more material – tear the pages into bits, moisten the pulp, make papier-mâché cranes? And what about the spine of the notebook, the spiral wire – would he take days to press it straight and use the filament for something practical? a paper clip?

By Ashley Makar


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