He clasped the coal, still glowing red, from off his wooden floor
And placed it back within the flame. A knock was at his door.
T’was dark outside and very late, and the snow fell thick and hard.
He knew not of a single soul who would trek across his yard.
He cautiously stood from his knees and crept across the room.
Unsure who waited there outside beneath the crescent moon.
His hand reached out, then paused a bit, then grabbed the metal latch.
Pulling down, familiar creaks, and then the lock did catch.
Before his face stood weary thin, a man so dark and frail.
His bony hands, chapped and raw, gripped the iron rail.
His clothes were thin, ripped and worn. No hat was on his head.
T’was in his hand, upside down, a dark and dirty red.
His eyes looked back, dark and wide, and shadowed from the light.
His hair was long and full of knots and pathetic to the sight.
His bearded chin began to quake, and parched lips began to part.
His words were short and almost dead, but shot straight to the heart.
He brought him in and sat him down upon a wooden chest.
The man obliged, moving slow, grateful for the rest.
The stranger’s boots were taken off to dry beside the fire.
His feet were bare, no socks in sight, and sore and wet and tired.
A blanket fell, thick and dry, upon his crooked back.
A ceramic tub soaked his feet, misshapen and quite cracked.
Within a moment, a platter sat upon his feeble lap.
With bread and cheese, an apple too, and water from the tap.
When he was done, he was led across the narrow hall.
To a spacious room, with a double bed, and a mirror on the wall.
The mattress firm, the blankets heavy, laid well upon himself.
And as he closed his heavy eyes, he glanced toward a shelf.
When the host awoke that morn and rose from off the floor
He saw the boots were now long gone and his guest was too no more.
The bed was made, the covers tight, and a book lay there on top.
He lifted it, glanced the page and then his eyes did stop.
He saw the words from long ago describe what he had done.
He saw a man in need of care and brought him in his home.
And now the words he read just then caused guilt and pain, regret.
For he had paused and questioned why to help this stranger yet.