The Bad Samaritans

It was very hot. Marching in a demonstration
made us even thirstier. We’d already used up
all the water we had brought from home.

The sun was brutal. As we marched along
we saw an unattended gardening truck
with a water tank on top, clearly marked
“NON POTABLE WATER” next to the spigot.

We liberated some anyway, filling our bottles,
figuring we could at least pour a bit
over our heads later to get a little relief.

And that’s what we were doing when a man
we knew slightly noticed us splashing
it on ourselves and asked if he could
please have a sip of that precious water.

We swore to him that it was not for drinking
but he didn’t believe us and stormed off,
filled with righteous anger at our selfishness
and complete lack of basic human decency.


The old, nondescript building
where we had marriage counseling
in the nineties, has finally been torn down.
It had been deteriorating for years,
until at last it stood vacant, silent
and hollow-looking, with a sad air
of desolation and hopelessness.
Now there is nothing but a massive hole
where it used to be, half a city block.
No doubt something new will be constructed
to take its surrendered place.

On the second floor,
up an echoing metal staircase,
and at the far end of the hallway,
was the little room where the words
“I want a divorce” were first spoken.
It all came down quickly after that.
Our counselor had been hoping
for a better outcome, but she must
have known, as much as anyone,
that some things are simply
too far gone to be saved.

John Eustis is a retired librarian living in Virginia with his wife, after a long, quiet federal career.  His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Evening Street Review, Pirene’s Fountain, and North Dakota Quarterly.