Despite Everything, He Smiled

by Vivian Imperiale

The tired homeless man

worked his way across traffic lanes

to stand on the divider strip,

hoping that drivers

would open their windows

and hand him change.

Not terribly likely

but he had no other plan

than to stand in the cold,

breathing in fumes,

seeing stern faces

turning away.

He spotted me

standing on the sidewalk

and he smiled.

It melted my heart.

I came and thanked him

for smiling at me.

Then the realization

spread over his face —

despite everything

missing in his life

he did have something

to give someone else.

He had his smile

and it had mattered to me.

Without being asked,

I gave him a dollar.

We both were richer that moment.