I decided to assign myself a poetry writing session from our book Leaping Off into Space: A Travel Guide to Risk and the Imagination. I include a chapter called “Writing to Understand: Empathy and Voice.” For most of the lesson chapters, I write poems in response to the model poem I suggest. However for this chapter one of my poems is the model. So I decided it was time to write to my own model and assignment.
A Moment in the Sun
Comfort cannot be what she’s looking for.
The pavement is rough and patterned in this sunlit
Italian alley. Sitting on a small ledge raised a few inches
above the street, her back curves forward to avoid the bicycle
handles behind her. Her sun and weather roughened face
hides behind the folds of the faded flower strewn scarf tied around her head.
The shape of her body disappears under her red stripped long sleeve shirt.
A long black quilted vest meets her blue checked skirt. Her feet hide in the folds
of the long skirt. Like her country, she is a mix of old and new with her cream
shoulder bag and her black quilted vest.
I suspect she’s a gypsy. Focused on her hands, she misses this chance
to beg. Her large brown hands carefully count the coins in her cup.
I have come to be wary of persistent beggers who often come in sets
and have more of robbery intent than simple asking for money.
Being careful, I look around, pause and discreetly take her picture
thinking of my coming book and a need for photographs.
Looking at her in the quiet of my office,
I wonder if I assumed too much. Perhaps she would have liked a smile
and a nod- a simple moment of two women enjoying the warm Italian sun.
But neither of us paid obvious attention to the other.
Two women encased in our own separate worlds.