Monday Afternoon


I don't know who this woman is. She was sitting on the side of the street on a low wall with a cup in her hand. She was wearing a cap to hide her face. I knelt down and put $2 in her cup and asked if I could take her picture. It crossed my mind that I was taking advantage. I wanted her to take off her cap so I could see her face, really see her.  Her mouth barely opened when she spoke and she was so subsurvient to me I wanted to be sick. What was the difference between us? Both women, both here on the same street on the same day. If I got down to my last dollar with only a cup to ask for more, I know I won't be here. Is this what happens when you have no one to turn to to say please help me. I wonder at what point she laid down for the first time under a blanket, her body covering up the cracks in the pavement, shivering, watching her life waltz past.

At night what goes through her mind. You know that moment we have in the middle of the night when we sense we really are alone, that moment of piercing reality where we question our existence. Who can she turn to for help.  Is there anyone that knows to love her. Is there anyone for her to turn to who still sees the girl in her, who can hold her, listen to her silence and hear her.

She looks petrified to me in this photo. She had taken off her cap and had played with her hair, put her shoulders back and sat up straight. I said to her to relax, I wanted a picture of her how she was. All the time she was clutching the cup with the $2 in it and I felt lke a voyeur but I still took it. I wanted to tell her how beautiful she was, but I didn't. What is beauty? A homeless woman with a cracked face and dirty skin sitting with legs apart revealing dirty ankles and mans shoes, willing to look me right in the eyes and recognise her? Yes, I think there is beauty in that.

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