happy mother’s day

I drive by a man on my way back from Whole Foods who is trying to sell flowers on the median. He has a lot of muscles and is wearing one of those bright orange vests for visibility. In the hot Houston damp, he looks at drivers close and far, shaking his flowers a little, enunciating their supposed desirability with his motions. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. His flowers look sorry compared to the ones I just picked up. I have an immense bloom of tulips and lilies in bright colors and he has a few sad carnations sloppily dyed and padded heavily with baby’s breath. I can’t decide if I should try and catch his eye and smile. Would it be encouraging? Go on, I’d say with my eyes, you are doing great, keep it up! Or would it be patronizing? I start to tear up, so I decide not to look at him at all. This is awkward because he is so close to me now, and I can’t stand for him to think that maybe his situation (the one I’ve imagined for him in my head) makes him a pariah somehow, so I try to look at him now, but he has moved on. Looking farther to the next row of cars, he gently shakes the bouquets again, pleading quietly with his eyes. I hope you go home to someone who is good to you. I hope you go home to someone who is understanding, who looks at you in the eyes with love, not pity. I hope you are touched and touched well. I hope you are not used for someone’s middle-class guilt, as a barometer for our own successes and ethics. I hope you go home to someone who wants nothing more than to take your flowers. 

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