by | Nov 1, 1992 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

I heard a knock upon my door
And opened it to see
All the poor around the world
Looking back at me
In tattered clothes and worn-out shoes
With families to feed,
They held their hands out, hopefully,
Could I address their need?
“Too many,” I said, overwhelmed,
And shut the door in dread
For I am just one person,
“There’s a way,” a small voice said.

NOT a moment passed
before I heard another knock,
And all the hungry, ’round the world
Were out there, to my shock
Their bellies round and bloated
The eyes as blank as chalk
They looked at me as if to speak
But fell, too weak to talk
I shut the door in sorrow,
“There’s too many to be fed!”
For I am just one person,
“There’s a way,” the small voice said.

WHO was this voice, I wondered?
When a knock drew my surprise
Foreign armies ’round my house,
Blocking out the skies
Their weapons spread for miles and miles
Their missiles at the fore
They seemed to ask for my reply,
I quickly shut the door
“There must be some mistake!” I cried
“These armies are misled,
”I have no power over them!”
“You do,” this small voice said.

AND as I pondered for a while,
Another knock I heard
This time the door revealed to me
A vision quite absurd
All the nation’s ill and sick
Were crowded on my lawn
Wheelchairs, nurses, bandages,
Were stretched from dusk to dawn
“What will you do?” they said as one
“To pay for all these beds?”
“You’re asking me?” I told them
“They are,” the small voice said.

AND then a knock, a rapping sound
And fire, like a torch,
I looked outside to see the
Nation’s crime wave on my porch
They seemed to stretch beyond the night
They branded guns and chains
Stolen cars and stolen goods
Fell from my roof like rains
“Go!” I shouted, “Go away!
“I won’t call the police!”
I slammed the door, then heard that voice:
“You can make it cease.”

AND so it went for all the day,
The knocking never ending
And every time a different cause
Too big for comprehending,
And always came this foolish voice,

From where did this voice spring?
Assuring me I had power over everything?
“SHOW YOURSELF!” I hollered now
“For this has gone too far.
“I’m busy, I’ve got work to do,
“I need to wash my car
“This optical illusion
“Is fine for just a game
“But thinking I can change the world
“Is really quite insane.”
I waited then for some reply,
But quiet fell once more
Finally, a faint and weakened
Knocking on my door
I opened it to see a child there
Bending at the knee
I gasped for breath and rubbed my eyes
For this child looked like me

HIS face was hung in sadness,
His body thin and lone,
His eyes revealed a hopelessness,
That chilled me to my bone.
I wanted to embrace him, but
He turned and walked away
“You’ve left your child no future,”
I heard that small voice say.
“The power to create a change
“For hungry and for poor,
“Those armies, you ignored them
“Tho’ just outside your door
“Because you are one person,
“You gave nothing but your sighs
“The sadness of this legacy
“Lies in your children’s eyes”

NOW my heart was stirring,
My anger boiled and bubbled
“Tell me, then!” I hollered
“How I can save the troubled!
“Tell me how I can create
“This laughter from despair
“Tell me where this magic cure
“Lies hidden in the air
“Tell me how a person trying
“To work and sleep and eat,
“Can make a dent in problems
“Meant for armies, or Wall Street
“Tell me how a simple soul
“Turns living from the dead”
And here it came, a single word
“Vote,” the small voice said.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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