The Collector sits,
day after day,
on a bench on the sidewalk,
gripping a plastic cup in his hand
and waiting for the change of a stranger
to find its way to the bottom.
People come and go, passing by in endless waves as he sits, motionless, hoping to squeeze maybe a drop or two of compassion from this passing parade.
He collects much, but very little change.
Endless snippets of conversation float by — who’s doing what, where it happened or is happening, how much this or that or the other thing costs, but it is nothing more than palaver to his ears, the same as yesterday and the day before.
Looks and glances float by from time to time, and these are much the same, consisting mainly of disdain, and fear. For the most part he is ignored altogether — a useless prop in a play full of leads — and it is this, above all else, that fills his cup day after day.
The seasons change, and winter finds the collector still parked upon his bench, waiting for the eternal hand-out. Often he falls asleep there into the night, a light blanket of snow gathering upon his shoulders and head. At two o’clock the bars let out and the college kids swarm by, laughing and eating street vendor sausages. Sometimes the bolder ones even steal the change from his cup.
And what should we expect?
The collector has nothing to offer, nothing to give, yet he asks.
Well, that’s not how things work. We lie in the bed we’ve made.
And so, we continue only to offer up the same useless and broken artifacts for his collection, unable to see the reflection, so clear, of our own empty cup in his hands.