Otherness – A Poem

I think of your Otherness

When I see your hand held out in front of me

Your five fingers extended from your curved palm

In that universal sign that means both

“Here, take this” and

“Please, help me”


I think of your Otherness

When I see you walking on the side of the road

One foot in front of the other

The same way that all babies walk

Since they learned to take their first steps


I think of your Otherness

When you turn your head to smile at me

In that international meaning

That needs no words to say

“Hello, I see you”


I have to think of your Otherness


When I see you,

I would hate myself for looking the other way.


I had written this poem and then posted it really quickly on Sunday night to make the deadline for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #228 – Otherness. If you read and commented before I was able to totally finish this post, thank you! I hope you get a chance to read this 2nd part of it.

The week the schools closed here because of the pandemic, I had taken the kids to Target to grab a few things. On our way home, at the corner where we had stopped to make a right, we saw a homeless man carrying a sign asking for help, as he went from car to car.  Usually, I have a little baggie with some granola bars and a few dollars that I would hand out however, on this day, I didn’t even look at the homeless man, trying to avoid making eye contact with him.

The light turned green and we turned the corner, and my kids asked me why I hadn’t given him anything. Hesitantly, I explained that I was worried about getting the coronavirus and that our safety was more important right now than helping the homeless man. My 9 year old then said, “But he probably doesn’t know about the coronavirus if he’s homeless. He probably doesn’t have a TV or a cell phone to get the news. He just knows that he needs help and we didn’t help him.”

Her astute perception has stayed with me.

Especially as more Americans file for unemployment benefits, the line between Self and Other, “Us Who Have” and “Them Who Have Not”, is blurring. In a lot of ways, we are all “Those Who Used To Have”.

Will we be able to see each other’s similarities now instead of focusing on our differences?

Will we be able to see “The Other” in ourselves?



(c) 2020 iido