Only if it were a Trifle

She was begging by the roadside…
begging for alms… for small change,
if you had some to spare.
A torn, ragged sari draped around her feeble,
emaciated body.
She had worn those six yards for eternity,
it was the only piece of clothing she owned,
faded and patched in several places.

She resembled a crushed fruit, her swollen,
diseased feet playing a mirthless peek-a-boo
with the clear arias of sunlight glinting
glorious allegro in the distance.
Her sunken eyes, stony, black, bottomless
pools of nothing.
They had long given up hope for a saviour or
a loved one to establish the long-lost bonds
of kinship.

Her puckered hands, tired from begging and
pleading… her sparse, white hair sticking
to her scalp, making her look like
a hideous, wanton porcupine.
The pavement was her only abode.
She slept there at night, with the
mice and fleas for company.
They don’t bother her anymore.
This had been her reality
for seventeen years.

She rattled her bowl against the hard
gravel of the sidewalk.
She sits patiently, while faces
behind numberless tinted windows
peer and glare.
While some blankly stare,
some with bewilderment,
some with mild indifference,
while others with utter disdain.

She mumbled to herself sometimes
when the cold December air
became too much to bear.
She couldn’t tell a daze from reality
anymore; she had been by herself
for too long,
out on the dark, deserted streets.
She was somewhat immune to the
frosty chill of the winter mornings,
but couldn’t help her teeth from
rattling in the cold.

Her visage reminds one of…
…perhaps an empty wineskin…
or an extinguished candle.
The seedy-looking cobbler, the sole
occupant of the pavement besides her,
at this hour;
looks through her as though
she were an unwanted
encumbrance.

The merry crowds from the rowdy
corner cafe look at her as
though she were dust beneath their
fingernails.
Her wrinkled face resembled that
of an old, hungry pike,
but unlike the fish, she could not
close in for a kill anytime she wanted.
Her nocturnal companions were
somewhat lucky.
The mice never went hungry like her.
She bore an uncanny resemblance to…
who? You might ask…
She is no stranger,
for she is the woman, you and I cast
out of our homes to fend for herself.
She is every woman that has been
spurned by her loved ones, that has
been at the receiving end of a
barrage of expletives;
she is every woman that is driven out
to live off the scraps of society.
She is every woman that has been
mistreated, tortured, wronged and betrayed.

She is but you and me –
A faint phantasmagoria beckoning
us to an unwanted future of privation;
of neglect and endless deprivation.
For the many slots on that pavement
are ours for the taking.
And in five and twenty years perhaps,
the world too shall be looking at
Living corpses on the sidewalk,
At you and me.

Aneesha Roy

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About Ijagun Poetry Journal

Ijagun Poetry Journal is a quarterly journal that provides a platform from which we can tell our own stories in the authenticity of their multiplicity through the poetic medium. We don’t want to hear these stories from our master “griots” alone; we want to hear from those mastering their art, too. Hence, we aim at publishing new and emerging poets. We also welcome the works of established poets in order to encourage the poetic genius of those mastering poetic art. We prize original works that conform to, break or reinvent conventions. Again, we accept reviews and critical essays on poetry. We also accept powerful art works and photographs that make us appreciate the "poetry" in everything.
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