The Soul of a Man

by Christine Redderoth-Roderick
(Southbury, CT)

In a time when lines were drawn
and division was a way of life,
Willie Brainard only looked
as far as the conversation.
The soul of a man lived
in their thoughts and in their heart.
The exterior had no bearing
on how Willie responded to the men
who gathered outside his station.
He cared not about their money,
their social status or
the color of their skin,
he cared only about their stories
and what they had to share.
In a time when words were used recklessly,
Willie used his carefully.
He crafted each sentence as if
he were molding it out of clay.
He listened intently to each man speak
as if no other sat with him
outside on that porch.
Everyday a group would gather and
Willie would give them the freedom of
acceptance, the freedom to speak
their individual truths.
Each man provided Willie with
their souls, spread out in front of him
in an unwitting sacrifice.
What Willie got in return,
was the knowledge that
every man whom he had the joy
of listening to was the man
that he himself had become

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