A Bowl, A Coin, A Mat - Poem by Rani Turton
He sat there near the white pillar, waiting
For a coin to dropp into the tin bowl
Dented, indented with hazy souvenirs
He waited on his thick cotton mat for a coin
A glance, a word, whatever came easier.
He wouldn't stoop to asking; he had tried even that
It did not give more. Now that the city was overrun
With networks of beggars that stimulated
Sickness and poverty as a means of earning;
Beggars like him, the real ones
Often didn't even have the protection of the community.
Waves of people pass. the sounds of footsteps,
For many the old man was transparent, invisible
At times a man who should not be there.
A young man came and said, 'Here you are,
Grandfather, ' and a heavy thulk as the coins dropped
Into the waiting bowl. He nodded, and waited
The whole day had to wane. He would sit there
Listening to snatches of conversation, a life
Of which he had no part. As the sun set he would walk
Painfully to his shack, fold his mat
And put his tin bowl and coins away.
Copyright: Rani Turton
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