She stands in the street,
heat and humidity of a New Orleans afternoon,
flailing at her guitar and wailing her song.
Sweat streaks down her cheeks,
drips from her jaw,
speckling her thick cotton dress.
A plastic bucket sits on the asphalt,
an empty vault, mocking her blues
and giving body to them.
Strangers walk by,
some giving no more notice to her
than to the concrete under their feet.
Some few pause for a moment,
perhaps wondering whether a coin or two
might help end her efforts
or merely encourage her to sing longer.
Whether for empty bucket or full sun,
she finishes the song,
gathers up her stuff,
moves slowly along the alley,
wondering where faith and hope
might meet in this hardened world.
I cannot for the life of me
determine whether I have witnessed
some quiet, almost ethereal determination
or a screaming desperation echoing along
the brick and iron of this balconied street.