The Walker

We came to call him The Walker

watched out for him roadside along

the highway between towns, one

hand atop a stout tree branch he

dragged alongside, ball cap on backward

We saw him dropped off a couple times

(if he ever caught a ride) at the vacant house

bordering on collapse, a gray place

maybe he inherited or squatted in

it didn’t make much difference

except that it lacked any amenities

utilities, window panes, most of the porch

sometimes he clutched a little bag

that might’ve held food bought or gleaned

but mostly he just walked, miles and miles

sun browned sometimes he would lift

his hand in response when we waved

as we pulled away from the shoulder

his walking on the wrong side of the road

as we applauded a newer coat, heavier shoes

after a bitter winter, he hasn’t been

seen this spring and the byways seem

bare without him become some symbol

of stolid perseverance, dogged determination

trying to elude whatever demons kept him

him from finding love, acceptance, job, home

how we wondered what wraith walked with him

whether companion or foe marking miles

and now his footprints invisible, yet he haunts

gone without giving us any answers.