By Gerald Wright

She sits on the sidewalk with her back against the building,

her ginger bangs hanging loosely on her forehead,

and busies herself scanning reams of ledgers…pulled from a dumpster.

The need for work – for dignity – runs deep in her.

A T-shirt rug shrouds her store of worldly belongings stacked in piles

In the shopping cart she has commandeered.

Clothes.

Books.

Random objects – each with a story.

“This metal cover? I think it came from the yacht of Aristotle Onassis…”

She likes the shaded area near a certain sidewalk cafe

where the smell of coffee and baking pastries loiters in the air.

It is her space…
her office; her veranda; her living room; her chapel – all rolled into one

From her station she seems not to notice the passersby

as their pace quickens and as they, in return,

are careful not to notice her.

She scans the rows of numbers;

lots of pages to work through before night falls.

Gerald Wright is a professor emeritus of Intercultural Studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University and also a member of The Trinity Group and former missionary. This poem reflects his friendship with the homeless woman described in the piece.

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