A Story from Childhood Teaches Us What It Means to Be Human

The stories I read as a child deeply impacted me, and I can’t help but use them as a framework for so many experiences I have as an adult. While I was drinking lukewarm, stale coffee on a fall day at work, I suddenly remembered the man with red eyes from Madeleine L’Engle’s a Wrinkle in Time (really came from out of nowhere), and the relevance hit me like a train. So I wrote this:

The Man with Red Eyes

On Wednesday, his stare is

luke-warm, bitter coffee.

My eyes cross and blurr and

breathing all but sleeps.

I see him then, in the unreal haze,

speaking softly with still lips,

eyes pulsing red

and suddenly I am Charles Wallace.

My boss enters

“Are you okay?”

and I don’t know,

so I smile and reply with data.

I get home and Meg says “You aren’t you!”

and it is true of both the man and I. He is not

a friend and I am not a

5-year-old who understands the soul

of every man lost in plain view.

Meg cries and her tears rip his mask off

and I see an old man with my eyes

and my own red eyes terrify me back

to safety


A soul engages in a daily battle to keep its passion and conscience alive. Nothing is more oppressive to the soul than feeling nothing, saying nothing, and doing nothing. Sometimes what you allow into your body is an indication of whether you’re giving up. Don’t give up!


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