The girl with a goat sits near the steps of the cathedral sucking
gummy worms through swollen lips,
her hair hanging lank in the sultry heat.
The street sweepers will later hear her confessions whispered tightly against
cracked knuckles; but now her song lifts and drifts across
vendors with push carts, pelicans and ruffians, drag queens playing mouth harps.
The required hurricane sloshes within a fish bowl,
the scent of beignets is fragrant in the air.
She glances up from her book:
Sister, can you spare a dollar? The goat needs to eat.
I handed her five.
I meant to ask about her own story, her relics, her pain.
What books does she have there in her basket, where are her people;
is she wearing faith bravely amongst the pins on her shirt?
She was regal, in her way, and appears to not have fallen from grace, as much as she embodies it.
I have no right to ask these things, and so
I quietly watch.
She has captained the very plank we have forced her to walk, her goat at the stern, there
in Pirate’s Alley in the early morning fog.
Joy R. Wilson Parrish © 2018