By Karin Riley
To the East Berliners who now walk across
I want to show them the man I saw
standing at the intersection today
he held a sign in capital letters
I AM HUNGRY
I WILL WORK FOR FOOD
and the cars rolled past and past
thinking of lunch
or perhaps annoyed that time is so short
wrapped in shame for having
all along the highway the world blurred
because I cried
the arms of freedom
do not catch everyone gently.
--Published in Bullseye, my high school literary magazine, in 1990. Line breaks are different than they appear here.