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as mornings grow colder i am reminded of a woman
curled next to a steam vent in an effort to warm
herself.  a small tin cup like you might find in
an army surplus store was positioned near her
exposed face as the cold nipped away at her dignity.
some faces are unforgettable. hers was one.

 

tin cup music

life’s story was etched on her face
carved with pocket-knife memories
rubbed in with grammar school erasers
and colored like heavy wet fog
on a stinson beach winter’s morning

smiles were kept tucked in her pocket
until a coin rang out like handel’s messiah
hitting the bottom of her tin cup
a reminder of how far she had fallen
in a life written like a fourteen-line sonnet

noise from darkened streets and shadowed corners
became comforting street sounds
as she curled in her coarse wool army blanket
now clutched to her chin and pushed by her toes
until she found sleep in her cocoon of warmth

then a little girl jumped on chalk-drawn squares
skipped rope and laughed while running into the wind
and peeked around corners in games of hide and seek
oh, she chased her puppy and hugged her kitten
in dreams constructed with yesterday’s pieces

awakened, she wondered when she last cried
tears no longer fell easily
and the gurgling complaints in her belly
reminded her that morning erased dreams
as easily as dreams erased the pain of living