Saturday, September 22, 2007

Derailment

Head bowed she moves slowly
Planting and shuffling each faltering step
While grasping with white-knuckles the precious cart
That came as a self-extricated gratuity.
Her other prize – a loaf of day-old bread
Bought with a coin left by a harried customer.
In the coin slot of the grocery cart,
tipped and carelessly derailed.

She bends over the cart in usual hunched form
Studying the filthy sidewalk through the wire grid.
All of it a blurred and rippled vision
With only the exceptional clarity of the
Bold lettering on one solitary bag in the cart.
While others in domestic comfort read cereal boxes,
She feels a happy completeness in the sustenance
Promised by these words - “Liberty Bread”.

She smiles and raises her Medusa-spiked hair,
Smooths with gnarled hands her dingy robe.
And unfolds a derelict body into a
spasm of honorable uprightness.

And then in that moment of poise, she cries
Like a trumpet blast to the bustling streets and busy throng…

1.“Keep, ancient lands your storied pomp…
Send …homeless, tempest-tossed, to me…”


She reattaches herself to the cart,
Folds again, and moves on

Laughing…while we weep.

1. Italicized text is from Emma Lazarus’, “The New Colossus”, written for inscription on the Statue of Liberty.

2 comments:

Dick said...

Powerful stuff, Roberta. The association between dereliction & the Statue is effectively made.

Roberta S said...

Thanks dick. The other 'contrast and compare' rotating in my mind while I was writing this is -- that Liberty does not have one finite definition. It may mean different things to different people.