The concept of evil, as long ago
Symbolized by the devil, has evolved
Over centuries into the concept
Of men, as delineated by (let's
Call her) Naima, Halloween night
At Fertile Grounds, where she stood
Demurely chatting with Ayman, the handsome
Proprietor (think Omar Sharif
With soul and twinkle) at closing time,
As I poked my ancient nose in and said
"Trick or treat." Ayman offered a knuckle
Bump solidarity hello--alone there
By the counter with lovely young Naima,
Who, when I said, What's new, smiled
Ever so sweetly and said, "Men are evil!"
Feeling it ungracious to disagree
I didn't, for a moment. But then--
Well, solidarity is solidarity.
"What about Ayman?" I said. "Ayman
Doesn't look evil to me." Naima
Fixed upon Ayman a glance of great
Critical probity, smiled and said, "Hmm,"
A moment passed, pregnant, perhaps
With reconsideration. Exceptions
Prove rules are basically dumb,
And really, that's the trouble, after all,
With generalization. And what of love?
"Isn't love," I ventured, "a matter of
Recognizing someone has flaws
And trying to help them limit the damage?"
More thought. "Yes, that's exactly what it is,"
Naima said. And to myself I said,
One point for a draw, quit while you're not losing.
I fell out the door, squeezing between raindrops.
Two ten-year-old girls walked past, one with horns,
The other peeping from a full body cast.
You forgot your treat, Ayman called out,
Holding up a bag of old pastries
From the "Born Yesterday" basket.