Les clochards

Les clochards


In southern France
I saw beggars
In cobblestone streets,
Hidden among
Tall medieval shadows

Shoppers stepped over
One man who sprawled in a doorway
Near a shoestore,
Shirtless in the cold rain.
Red scabs covered his torso.
He was silent,
Allowing his flesh
To speak.
A cigar box with a few francs rested
Between his outstretched legs.

A dark-skinned family took turns
Opening the door to the Post Office
For anyone who entered
Or left
Wishing "bonjour" to all
A few centimes rattling in a tuna can
At the end of an outstretched arm,
Spare change from stamps or postcards.

Grandmother and grandfather
Minding a baby and a dog
Huddled on a brown wool blanket
Near a bus stop.
A sign,
Handfashioned from a piece of cardboard
And folded in half like a tent said:
"We are Yugoslavian refugees.
We need money for food
To feed our grandson
And the small dog."

I gave what I could,
A few coins,
But not enough to satisfy
The beggars that still
Inhabit the shadowy streets
Of sweaty dreams.


by Carol Mohrbacher


Contributors retain all rights to their work. ©1996 Kaleidoscope. Write Place. Volume 7.


URL: http://leo.stcloud.msus.edu/kaleidoscope/clochards.html


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