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The Queen of Second Street...

I see her walk proudly down the street,
her hips swaying to a long forgotten tune.
She has no concern for the evening traffic
as it parts for her like the Red Sea.

Her cart is filled with obscure shapes
in dingy wrappings, and if you look
closely, you'll see a cherished doll
wrapped tightly in a dirty blanket.

She smiles as she walks, as though 
chatting with unseen people, and after
listening, she raises her hand in a 
queenly salute.
She walks on then, nodding left and right,
smiling her regal smile.

I can see in my mind how this tattered
dowager in torn tennis shoes would look
wearing a velvet cape, priceless pearls around
her neck, head erect to bear the
weight of her heavy crown.

She lives in a wonderful place, much
different than the world she left
years ago, and when she sleeps, it's not
in a nest of boxes in the Art Center
doorway, but in a canopy bed with tapestry
hangings, and a tassel to summon her 
"ladys in Waiting"

I see her look at me and smile, 
and I wonder who she sees-
I know it isn't me.

--

copyright October 1997
Judith Anne Labriola

(This poem was published in 95
Windows, an unofficial Poetry Collection
from the Microsoft Network available
at all Barnes and Noble Bookstores.)





About this poem...



Artist, Ferdinand Khnopff
This poem is a verbal sketch of a woman who walked the streets of my "adopted" city, and who was one of its landmarks. She pushed a shopping cart, and wore a turban on her head in summer and winter. She was always smiling, with such a peaceful expression on her face. Many times I would see her curled up in her little "nest" by the Art Center front door,(under several cardboard packing boxes and plastic bags) in the dead of winter, but each day she was up and around again, pushing her "baby" (that was in actuality a little dog) in her cart. One day the dog died and she pushed it around in this condition, until someone became concerned and removed it from her cart. Finally, someone gave her room in their garage to live, and she stayed there until she became ill and died...she was from a well to do family..she just didn't care to be one of them. Judith Labriola..

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