Must I?

A bar of soap, a box of sweets,
A Starbucks card or two or three-- 
Gifts of obligations are not gifts.

The only gift worth giving is that of time.
An hour with a bedridden person
must be worth more than a new sweater--

Unless, of course, the person were cold,
and me a bore. Ah,yes. Maybe time would 

not be so great if I were disliked, 
despised, or wanting to drag 
an unwilling soul to the theater.

That might just do a person in.
So maybe, it's not time, but empathy,
showing understanding. Nah.

That ain't it, kid.
Showing concern for someone with less
does nothing. 

Action, that's it. Pull on your
overcoat and rain boots, fill a few
sandbags for the folks in tent city.

Right. That's got to be better
than giving a five and dime Magic 8 Ball
to the niece I only met once.

If I thought about the person 
for whom the gift is intended,
I would probably not give it.

I would write a poem about Emerson's
narrator who saw that "things
are in the saddle and ride mankind."

Or, I would pull out last year's 
wrapping paper, scotch tape, and scissors,
and disguise my apathy with a candle

from the dollar store.



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