A boy By Amy Shelver

I see you almost every day.

It’s been like this for years…
I have seen you shrink,

I have seen the child diminish to be replaced by a shadow.
Nothing that a passing pie, or piece of fruit, or copper coin could ever delay.

You, smiling from an ever-growing toothy grin, growing from boy to man – half man.
Your scrawny frame a wire for the messages of humanity’s failure to find solutions.

I have borne witness to your evaporation right before my eyes.

Like science.

The science of extermination.

You, who stand religiously at an intersection of human traffic, asking for the gift of survival.

The intersection of Humewood Road and Perrot Ave.

I mean, I see you,
and I don’t – depending on the whim of how I feel today.

But I always see you, if you know what I mean?.

It’s like I expect you to be there.

Sometimes I have fantasized about bringing you home, giving you a home.

But that remains just that, a fantasy..

The most beautiful thing about you is your smile.

Your humility and ability to smile despite it all..

It’s not a show and I, and a thousand others, know it too.
You cry sometimes too and I worry about you loosing precious water and minerals with those tears.

It’s no doubt because you are simply still a boy and the cynicism has not got to you yet.

Maybe that’s why I freaked out when I saw you outside the crack house on Cuyler Street opposite the law courts today, standing under the tree while the humid rain hung in the air.

Maybe the boy was looking for an adventure, or an escape, or a moment of bliss, or a place that resembles home.

I wonder if you were contemplating the life-changing decision you were about to make as you stood there under the tree, still looking in.

But not in yet; as I drove by you for the umpteenth time.

I understand your need for bliss, but I cannot sleep knowing where you are.

Because you should be at the traffic lights and people should be giving you the gift of survival.

And you should be in school, hanging with your friends.

And you should be at home with parents.

And you should be in a country where opportunity is yours.

And you should be staring down into a space where the future lies abundant with hope.

But you are not.

You are standing outside the crack house on Cuyler Street opposite the law courts – and I drove past you because I’m scared, of you.

Of myself.

'And the world just looks on' artwork by Raymond John Westraadt
Artwork: And the world just looks on (2019) l Raymond John Westraadt l Oil on canvas, 120cm x 90cm l Manhattan, New York, USA | Price on request
'And the world just looks on' artwork by Raymond John Westraadt

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