True Colours

First published in Contemporary Haibun Online 11:1, April 2015. Originally written in April 2013.

This past weekend I had taken my two children to the YMCA Easter egg hunt. After the frenzy of hundreds of kids gathering egg after plastic egg on a wide green lawn, I saw one boy pick up a pink egg that had just bounced out of a younger boy’s basket. The first boy immediately followed the younger boy, stopped him in mid stride, and handed him the pink egg. The shorter boy looked puzzled for a moment and then grinned. The taller boy, also smiling, disappeared into the still-swarming crowd of kids, no more eggs to be found. I soon lost sight of the younger boy, too, but just before I did, I saw that that pink egg was the only one in his basket.

                school zone—
                skid marks still black
                in the crosswalk

Today, while stopped at a traffic light, I saw two teenagers at the corner bending to lift a white plastic bag from a larger cloth sack. They exchanged a few words and then one of them took the plastic bag and stepped ten feet away, just beyond a telephone pole, where a man was seated on the ground, facing traffic, holding a hand-written cardboard sign. The teenager held out the bag and the man looked up, momentarily surprised, and took the bag. Then the teenager returned to his friend and together they walked away with the hint of a smile on each of their faces.

                daffodils in bloom—
                a patch of blue
                in the clouds overhead

I felt honoured to have witnessed these small transactions. That boy who gave another boy his Easter egg had no idea anyone had seen him. I wish I could have tapped him on the shoulder to say, “That was very kind of you.” And here at the traffic light, if there hadn’t been a car stopped in front of me, I would have beeped my horn and given those teenagers a thumbs up if they’d look over at me. But they’ll never know that I saw them, and perhaps no one else will know what happened, except the boy with the one Easter egg, and that homeless man at the street corner. Perhaps that’s the way it should be, I thought, that good deeds are their own reward. In a world of so much selfishness and thoughtlessness, it warmed me to see such acts—a noticing of the unnoticed. I imagined what that boy had felt, and what those two teenagers might have been feeling, and the smile on their faces spread to my own.

                for sale
                at the neighbourhood pawn shop
                a purple heart