A Gesture from the Heart in Newton

The following submission appeared in “We Are Newton: A Neighbourhood Anthology.” See here for more information about the project.

By: Ellen Niemer

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon.
The calendar said April,
But it felt like June.
I walked to the library without a care,
A smile on my lips, wind in my hair.

Drivers roared by with
Windows rolled down,
Cyclists pedalled by
Without a sound.

When a bicycle approached
I politely stepped aside,
Thinking that the sidewalk
Was no place to ride.

I glanced at the cyclist.
He must have been seventy,
And despite his age
Was dressed rather dapperly:

Neatly wrapped turban
Oiled white moustache
Navy blue suit
Crisp white shirt
Polished dress shoes on his feet

I smiled, he smiled
And dismounted from his bike.

I anticipated
A request for directions,
A comment on the weather.

But the old man leaned close,
A smiling, spritely elf.
He took me in his arms
And crushed me to himself.

A friend asked me later,
“What did you do?”

Should I have called the police?
Screamed my head off
Or run down the street?

What did I do?
The only thing
That felt right:

I hugged him back with all my might.

We smiled and continued on our way
After telling each other to have a nice day.

Because I stepped out of his way,
A stranger’s hug had made my day.

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