Each day the beggar man sets out his mat
at the top of the cathedral stairs,
visible to any who may care to look
but out of the way of foot traffic.
He never calls out to the passers by
as they rush past on their important errands,
no overt attempts to lighten their pockets.
Most, of course, avert their gaze,
repulsed by the thought of his dirt-slicked hair,
offended when he dares to scratch an itch,
afraid of what they might see if they look in his milky eyes.
Each day the beggar man sets out his mat,
places his cup and listens to life drift past.
He can judge the purpose of the parishioners
by the haste and weight of their stride and the
echo of their footsteps against the glassy marble,
to know emotions by the timbre of their breath.
He has known the joy of wedding parties,
felt the burden pall bearers shoulder,
shared in the pride of baptismal celebrations,
today though…there is something new.
Today he heard a tragic sigh intertwined with the wind,
pulling tears from otherwise useless eyes,
though he did not yet know why.