The Beggar

Sometimes, in the warmth of my complaisance, I sit, and his image comes to disturb my peace. At the edge of seeing, in fire’s light he slides into my consciousness. A frost of grey traps light, an aura in his hair. His face is dark, and eyes reflect the fire’s light, but I can never see his face. Serene, he sit in lotus pose. Amidst the traveler’s tales of places been and seen and money spent and saved, he seemed so out of place. And yet this was his place, his park, his new emergent nation, and we the interlopers, the visitors, the guests. He had come to share the evening ritual of beer, and spirits, and ganja smoke, and social discourse of the trip. And who were we, rich beyond his imagining, to deny him this. He took but little of what came his way and then passed it on. He spoke not, and I, uneasy with his presence, preserved the silence in the dark. Despite the dimness of the fire and my unease, eyes met and he broke the silence, “Jambo sir. Please, where are you from?” Awkwardly I said “Canada, from Canada.” “Oh Canada, you have large salmon and much wheat,” the “l” in salmon vocalized. He sat, immobile, with legs crossed. Forfending a return to silence, I inquired “How do you sit so long, cross legged and still?” The fire, reflecting from his smile he said, “It is not hard with legs like these.” Gnarled and deformed, just visible by fire’s light, the strangely beautiful terrain that was his knees cast light and shadow from the highs and lows of fused and knitted bone. Reflections from the specula of scar, highlighted smooth and sensual patterns. But not again would flex the rigid scar and sinew of those battered, ill-formed joints of his. Awareness came that he sat not upon a bench or stool but rather on a wheeled device, much like a child’s red wagon lacking sides. He pushed himself with wooden sticks. I did not know what else to say so simply said, “I’m sorry.” “No need,” he said, “they are me.” and then, Do you have child?” I told him no. I’m sorry was his sole response. “No need,” I said, “we’re young and do not yet have time.” Again the same response and then with pride, “I’ve two. They’ll graduate fifth-form and that is how I know of Canada.” His pity for our childless state was clear and so to change the dialogue I asked about his legs. When he was young, a village child, his parents broke and set them so. I was confused, not sure that I had understood so calmly had he said it, and I asked, afraid, “Your parents did this thing to you?” With true compassion in his voice he said, “It was hard, it was an act of courage.” They were poor and he, the youngest, would have no land, nor education would he get, and begging was his only hope. He remembered little of the act. His father held him still, while another smashed and set his knees. He lived as pampered guest until the bone had set and pain was gone. He learned to beg and raised two children with his trade, and they would graduate with options he had not, nor would they have to beg like him or maim a child to give it hope.
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved

The Beggar

Sometimes, in the warmth of my complaisance, I sit, and his image comes to disturb my peace. At the edge of seeing, in fire’s light he slides into my consciousness. A frost of grey traps light, an aura in his hair. His face is dark, and eyes reflect the fire’s light, but I can never see his face. Serene, he sit in lotus pose. Amidst the traveler’s tales of places been and seen and money spent and saved, he seemed so out of place. And yet this was his place, his park, his new emergent nation, and we the interlopers, the visitors, the guests. He had come to share the evening ritual of beer, and spirits, and ganja smoke, and social discourse of the trip. And who were we, rich beyond his imagining, to deny him this. He took but little of what came his way and then passed it on. He spoke not, and I, uneasy with his presence, preserved the silence in the dark. Despite the dimness of the fire and my unease, eyes met and he broke the silence, “Jambo sir. Please, where are you from?” Awkwardly I said “Canada, from Canada.” “Oh Canada, you have large salmon and much wheat,” the “l” in salmon vocalized. He sat, immobile, with legs crossed. Forfending a return to silence, I inquired “How do you sit so long, cross legged and still?” The fire, reflecting from his smile he said, “It is not hard with legs like these.” Gnarled and deformed, just visible by fire’s light, the strangely beautiful terrain that was his knees cast light and shadow from the highs and lows of fused and knitted bone. Reflections from the specula of scar, highlighted smooth and sensual patterns. But not again would flex the rigid scar and sinew of those battered, ill-formed joints of his. Awareness came that he sat not upon a bench or stool but rather on a wheeled device, much like a child’s red wagon lacking sides. He pushed himself with wooden sticks. I did not know what else to say so simply said, “I’m sorry.” “No need,” he said, “they are me.” and then, Do you have child?” I told him no. I’m sorry was his sole response. “No need,” I said, “we’re young and do not yet have time.” Again the same response and then with pride, “I’ve two. They’ll graduate fifth-form and that is how I know of Canada.” His pity for our childless state was clear and so to change the dialogue I asked about his legs. When he was young, a village child, his parents broke and set them so. I was confused, not sure that I had understood so calmly had he said it, and I asked, afraid, “Your parents did this thing to you?” With true compassion in his voice he said, “It was hard, it was an act of courage.” They were poor and he, the youngest, would have no land, nor education would he get, and begging was his only hope. He remembered little of the act. His father held him still, while another smashed and set his knees. He lived as pampered guest until the bone had set and pain was gone. He learned to beg and raised two children with his trade, and they would graduate with options he had not, nor would they have to beg like him or maim a child to give it hope.
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved