Les Clochards

Les Clochards

Carol Mohrbacher

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.

Copyright 1995 Kaleidoscope. Write Place. Volume 6.
Contributors retain all rights to their work.
URL: http://leo.stcloud.msus.edu/kaleidoscope/volume6/page14.html