Che Guevara had his “Motorcycle Diaries,”
Which gave him a radically new view of the world.
That was my experience in a wheelchair.
Ten years ago, I had broken my back
And couldn’t drive.
So I took the bus.
I needed exercise and tooled around the neighborhood in my seated chariot.
Like Odysseus, I found new lands.
Like, the bus.--
And on the bus, the wheelchair person is royalty.
The driver stops everything to help.
But the more tattoos and piercings the passengers have,
The more they seemed to care and help.
The more dangerous people looked,
The more protective they were.
Similarly, going around my neighborhood in my chariot,
I learned so much.
Old Black Holy Ghost Pentecostal grandmas
Pillars of the Church of God in Christ down the road,
would give me a cookie and pray over me:
“Lord Jesus, heal and protect this man, Lord Jesus
This your child!”
They would lay hands on me and my eyes would fill with tears
At their simple goodness and vast human hearts
At their capacity for love.
Tough looking vatos with tattoos would say,
“Tio, you, okay?" and then help me off the bus.
A drunk reeking with cigarette stink and last night’s booze
Would offer to push my wheelchair.
A lot of BMWs drove past me averting their eyes.
Wait! I thought they might have been my tribe!
Meanwhile purple-haired Claudette with so many tattoos and piercings beyond imagination,
Asked me, “Papi, you need some water?”
And her baby cried. So I kissed the baby.
The wounded know the wounded’
And love them best.
They are the Jesus people of the New Testament
They are the Woman at the Well.
I drank from that well.
And saw Jesus,