I Don’t Know My Role

The line “I don’t know my role” is hovering, so I’m going with it. I’ll put it before all of you and see what you have to say.

FIRST TIME I SAW the neon orange blanket in the park
it appeared as a heap on a picnic table,
as if a teen,
walking home from a sleepover,
put her stuff down to use the swings,
then forgot.
I imagined she’d later
be asked by her mom,
“Where’s your stuff?”
and come back for it.

But as I drew closer
I imagined differently,
that it might be a human under the blanket,
sitting at the table, sleeping.

and having only recently (the last few years) accepted as fact
I no longer possess as superpowers
the ability to run or fend off attackers,
I gave the table a wide berth.

Next day, the orange blanket was there again. And the next.
On that 3rd morning
a police officer pulled in.

Standing at a distance,
partially obscured by a low-hanging tree branch,
I let my dog sniff the high grass near the park sign
a lot longer than usual
while I, like a nosy neighbor from a 50s TV show,
observed the officer carefully approaching,
assessing the lump and nudging it.

(I am not proud of this. Simply reporting the facts.)

It moved. Man or woman, I couldn’t tell.
I left the two of them chatting
and hurried my dog along.

I don’t know what happened afterwards
and almost forgot about the whole thing,
as I, like most people,
am happy to do
when it comes to issues I can’t fix,

I am not proud about this either.

except then last weekend,
someone mentioned having seen
in a park just east of here
a neon orange blanket in a heap on a table.

And then this morning it was back in my park.

I just don’t know my role here.
I want to know it.
I just don’t know it.
I doubt it’s just to snap a photo and blog about it.



About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in comfort zone, community, compassion, philosophical maelstroms, response, summer 2016 challenge, unknowns. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to I Don’t Know My Role

  1. Katie says:

    Hi Marilyn,
    Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts. Blogging about it is a beginning – ? I suppose. Think we’ve all encountered situations in which we don’t know how to respond. You have made me think more along the line of what could, should, would I do???
    Two suggestions came to mind:
    One is that my sister has begun keeping items in her car that she can give to someone in need (nutrition bars, fruit roll ups,wipes, bottled water. . .)
    The other is to suggest a book I read that really moved me in regards to possibly helping others in some way. It is by River Jordan and is titled Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit. I think the teaser on the back cover indicates the power of this book well:
    “What if there was something you could do – something simple yet so powerful – that could positively influence others and change your life in the process?”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hope says:

    I can relate to this. Our small midwestern town had our first homeless person camped out on one of our sidewalk benches for a while. Their solution? Take down all the benches. It infuriated me. It felt SO wrong, but, like you, I wanted to take a role but didn’t know what that role should be.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Juliana says:

    I keep silently stalking this post – waiting for for someone to share what the answer is. I used to take comfort that because I directly served those less fortunate than I in my daily job I didn’t have to do anything outside of work. I’ve grown more and more uncomfortable with this position over the years and have no idea what to do that would be both respectful and helpful…and, frankly, safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn says:

      Respectful, helpful, safe. Three good words, Juliana. You summed it up well.

      I checked out the book Katie suggested and ordered a copy, something I do not take lightly as I try to keep my stash of to-be-read books to a manageable size. It sounded good. I’ll report back on it.


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