One sunless day a homeless drifter walked down the road into the town, bag on his shoulder. He leaned on his hooked walking stick as ragged leaves pelted him blown by a loudly whispering wind.
As he stood in the deserted Town Square several eyes watched from narrow openings in gray window curtains of houses facing the Town Square.
He found the Town Square fire pit and a hydrant and smiled. A few steps away beside a crumbling wall he found a cast iron kettle.
By then many more eyes were watching from behind gray curtains. In the rising and falling of the wind a murmur was high-pitched like an anxious inquiry.
Smiling, he filled the cast iron pot with water.
There by the flagpole (where several different flags had been flown but now there was no flag) he gathered leaves and twigs and lit a fire. He added branches. The flames rising up skyward resembled hands pleading heavenward. The whine of the branches being consumed sounded like human cries of longing.
All the eyes behind the curtains grew larger.
He reached into his bag and brought out into view a stone. It was the size of a potato. It was a grayish-brown like some potatoes, but it was a stone.
This plain, potato-shaped stone was a “singing stone.” Amalagated into its quartz and feldspar was a melodic chant inaudible to the human ear but tangible to the human heart. It transmitted a vibration--magnetic, drawing people close out of a desire to hear it.
The stone synthesized voices of millions who are outcast occupants of the perilous margins of society chanting “We are one, we are one, we are one” in a triumphant chorus--yet silently.
Smiling, the homeless drifter dropped the stone into the boiling water. He watched and waited.
In the same way shadows creep, drawn by something he did not understand, a person came from behind one of the houses, crossed the very wide street in cautious, small steps and stood next to the homeless drifter.
“This is all can offer but I have a carrot,” the townsperson said abruptly, holding out a carrot in his hand. The homeless drifter smiled, sliced the carrot and put it into the pot. The townsperson stayed, standing there watching the boiling water.
Soon a couple, also drawn by something they did not understand, came from behind their house and crossed the very wide street in cautious, small steps, both using canes. They held out two onions in their hands and said abruptly, “This is all we can offer.” They stayed to watch as the onions were added to the boiling water. They nodded to the homeless drifter. They exchanged very long handshakes with the other townsperson. They stayed, eyes fixed on the boiling water.
In turn, all of the people who had been watching came out of their houses and crossed the very wide street in cautious, small steps, drawn by something they did not understand. Each made one or two small contributions to what the homeless drifter was cooking, who smiled each time more was added to the pot.
The people gathered there, began to talk to each other cautiously at first, then with more boldness while they watched what was now a pot full and overflowing with what everyone had contributed. The various vegetable pieces surfaced and moved in harmony like colors and shapes in a kaleidoscope as the soup bubbled above the silently singing, magnetic stone.
The aroma filled the air. The townspeople were laughing and recollecting. The homeless drifter laughed with them.
Bowls were passed out. The soup was ladled out. There was just enough for each person’s bowl to be filled.
As the townspeople were leaving, embracing each other with tears on their cheeks, they did not see the homeless drifter remove the stone from the pot and put it back in his bag.
The sun was shining as the townspeople went back to their homes, waving and calling to each other. As they removed the gray curtains from their windows, they did not see the homeless drifter heading down the road in the direction of the next town, smiling, pausing occasionally to lean on his hooked walking stick as he walked against the wind.
From that day on they asked each other, did you get his name?
© 2016 MacCanon Brown