suppose the junkie on the median
with the cardboard sign and the leg tattoos
screams out that they love you
as you drive away from the brief encounter
where you passed a dollar into their hand
and made a left hand turn toward the highway —
is there any need to shout it back at them
if you do not indeed love them as well? did your
act of small charity represent love well enough?
does their addiction disqualify them
from hearing it spoken explicitly? how long
should their cracked voice echo inside you
after you are far away?