She sits on the cold stone stoop. She looks neither left nor right.
Her head is bowed, mostly, her left hand extends for alms.
The hand rests on her knee. It is rigid and curled into an unnatural cup. A shape carved over a lifetime. A boney cup meant to hold, pesos, centavos.
Give or don’t give. It is all the same.
Her connection is not with you or me.
Not with Mexico City daytrippers, Canadian snowbirds, American ex-pats,
All pass by with their heads tilted upward,
Watching their own reflection in smoky shop windows, calculating
The value of everything they see,
Her only link now is with time.
Withered, fading, ever more-distant time.
Are there memories? Happy ones? Tragic? Violent?
The face is too set, too weary, too cloaked, to give them away.
I can easily imagine the dignity inside.
She does not pull a coin into her chest until its donor has passed.
You don’t get that satisfaction.
“Buen día, señora. Buen día, señora.”
There is a lithe dancer beneath the cloaked layers.
A cantina queen, a poetess, a mother, a wife,
A laborer in the fields, a seller of street crafts,
A teacher, a shamaness, a matriarch, a maker of mini-mordiditas.
She was something. She was someone.
“Aún eres alguien, señora. Aún eres alguien, señora.”
Before she became a dark shadowy mirror
Into which people pour their reflected values
Scorn, pity, compassion, curiosity or
Worst of all, nothing.
At best a backdrop for a thousand selfies.
She grows smaller and frailer, each time I pass.
I want to whisper softly to her,
“Te veo, señora. Te veo, señora.”
You are not gone yet.