Pondering a Picture by Walter Mallon

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Pondering a Picture
I pick up the morning paper, the dawning of a new day.
I am greeted by a most compelling site,
A man seated, his dying wife in his arms,
His eyes look upwards in anxious gaze,
praying to his God for help.
Help that for this poor man will come too little too late.

In the dirt they sit, this man and his wife,
A needle attached to the tube coming out of her arm.
She has cholera, so says the paper.
She will die, so says God.
It came from the water in the river,
The only water there was to drink.

He holds his wife's hand, wondering why she is dying.
He thinks that he cannot loose her, he must not loose her.
In his poor land, he has not much.
His wife is his life, and now she is being taken away.
He does not fully comprehend his position in the world.
For until death takes one we love, one thinks he is immortal.

So many people stand around them,
But there are none to help.
For death is visiting many this day.
In his land, there is not much hope.
Her disease will be the victor in the battle for her life.
I sit here on my couch, contemplating the rhetoric of those pledged to help.

I wonder what this man is thinking.
Is he thinking of the good times they had together?
Is he reflecting, feeling the sting?
For if many fair occasions were between them,
The greater the loss to this poor wretch.
I grieve for him, I feel he is my brother.

I cut the picture out and hang it on my wall.
For it says to all that look at it:
All life ends; death makes equals of us all; And no matter what your stature, your strength, your intelligence,
Death will come for you,
And pray it takes you first, or you will grieve for those taken from you.

And when I catch myself thinking,
Why care of others, for this is their lot.
I will look at this picture and it will remind me,
That we are all men, of one world and one purpose;
And when men suffer, it is for all to grieve,
And if men have the means to help his brother and he does not,
Then he is a partner to Death, and he is no man to me.