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“I have done my share of busking--
it’s fun until it isn’t.”--Andrew Bird.
I walked out of Winco
yesterday, & in the corner of my eye
I saw her
before I heard her, a middle-aged woman
sitting on the sidewalk,
her back to the store,
wearing a tattered black hoodie
over a brown plaid shirt, her levis
torn at the knees,
without make-up, with a prominent nose,
gray streaks in her stringy
bobbed dyed-blond tresses,
with piercing green-violet eyes twinkling
behind cat’s eye glasses that were held together
with white medical tape, sitting
on a soiled green couch cushion
on a colorful Indian blanket, playing
a battered black acoustic guitar ( poorly ),
it’s strap of dirty clothes line around her neck,
using a sun-yellow-orange pick
that was cracked at the edges
like her fingernails, singing BLOWING IN THE WIND
( off-key), both the instrument & her voice,
accompanied by an old black Pug,
his fur & muzzle mostly
panted, snorted & howled along with the “music”.
I saw all of this in a glance
while walking to my car
in the rain--that & her open guitar case
with four single dollar bills
dotting the bright red velveteen innards.
Jesus, lady, where the hell are you from,
& what the hell are you thinking?
I strongly dislike, am disturbed
by panhandlers & beggars, always
in several directions. But then I stopped,
as the rain let up a little. I stood
with my wet naked hands gripping the handle
of the shopping cart tightly,
my knuckles turning white. I could still hear her,
now singing LADIES OF THE CANYON.
I turned & pushed the cart
back to the store
& paused in front of her. She smiled up at me
while singing, with a mouthful
of bad teeth, as I saw a purple-green bruise
on her left cheek. She looked directly into
my eyes, & whatever her story or her
situation, for that moment I loved her,
& she knew it.
I dropped a five dollar bill
into her guitar case just as
three other shoppers stopped
to listen to her, reaching for their spare change.
I touched the bill of my ball cap
in farewell, & rushed to my SUV,
my cheeks wet with both
shame & pride,
my tears both salty & sweet
dripping over my smiling lips.
When I got home
I told my wife about this woman,
& she insisted that we drive back there
to support her efforts,
but when we arrived, she
was already gone.
Posted over at dVerse Poets MTB
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