She spoke. “I wonder if our new neighbor has people.”
“People?” John murmured, looking over her shoulder.
“Yes, people,” said Elaine. “So he needn’t be alone
at Christmas. I hope he has friends, just as
Providence blesses us;
It hurts my heart, to think of a soul in pain.”
John said, “He likely has family, either here or there.
Maybe he’s Jewish, his grocery bag overflowing
With chocolate Macabees, and Gefiltefish.
In any case, though, just because he lives alone,
doesn’t mean, automatically, that he doesn’t have people,
people of his own.”
Elaine frowned. “I guess there’s no way to know,
Unless one were to ask him, strike up a conversation
along the sidewalk, some day when it isn’t raining.”
John frowned, then, “So, now, shall we invite to Christmas
Each stray dog that happens in from the rain?
What business of ours is it, really, anyway?”
John was not a cruel man at heart, but Elaine took it cruelly,
and whispered, “The common welfare was my business…
So said the ghost of Jacob Marley, one Christmas Eve.”
“Good God!” John exclaimed, “now you’re quoting Dickens to me.”
“This is real life, my dear. It isn’t a fairy tale, a fantasy.”
Her fingertip captured the tear on her cheek, before John could see.
“To be sure,” she said, and falling silent
She closed the curtain; and in time,
The man outside the foggy window pane….
The shadow man in the December rain….
Was completely forgotten.