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The Corner

By: Sarah Gradeless

We were both playing hide-and-go seek from the world,

except we wished to not be found.

Hiding from reality. Hiding from the 5 o'clock traffic

we wish we could join.

To both our dismay, the walls of books could not shield

either one of us from another human being.

"The corner," he must have thought. "That's where I'll go."

The rattling of his suitcase, the grocery bag, tattled of his location.

I stared a second too long and he was gone.

My uninvited eyes trespassed on his home.

"Less is more," people always say.

But, what about the man who cannot provide a home

for the family he doesn't have?

I bet he wished he had more. I bet he wishes that someone 

would give him a chance, instead of judgement and an awkward stare.


By: Sarah Gradeless

I asked her what she does for fun.

Clearly it’s not this.

Standing on the edge of the sidewalk.


Waiting for the light to turn as red as her embarrassment.

Waiting for a stranger to care and give up loose change.

Waiting for a minimum wage position at the local McDonald’s to open.


Her idea of shopping is for survival, not for status, nor style.

And her idea of going on a walk is different than yours or mine.

The use of cardboard isn’t to hold her possessions in storage.

But to make a “Mother of three children. Please, help me,” sign.

She answered my “What do you do for fun?” question

By talking in past tense form about her Xbox.

Then present tense about her wonderful baby boy.

I didn’t ask. But I know she sold the Xbox for a different kind of box.

A box of diapers.


I never knew how much disposable baby underwear cost until today.

Maybe I’ll buy stock in it someday.

The only thing I knew about diapers before today is

That it’s the only ‘gift’ nobody wants to get on the baby registry.

It’s impersonal, boring, makes you think of poop and gets disposed

Soon after the celebratory, blue or pink wrapping paper.


But this particular South Bend mother would kindly disagree.

The one who sells her pride for her children’s well-being.

Who endures the strangers’ belittling screams

As if she had much self‐esteem left for them to steal.

She eyed the unopened box of diapers

The way a woman in love eyes an engagement ring box.

She smiled. She knew that the next time

Her baby boy started to cry, she wouldn’t cry herself.

There would be another pair.


Who knew hope could come in a pair of baby underwear? 

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