And the scent of patchouli in the air.
Hemp and jade hung from her neck,
And daises were woven through her hair.
Anything that moved with purpose
Stopped to watch before passing by,
From people on the sidewalk,
To cars on the road, to birds in the sky.
She was a puzzle,
They tried to understand;
Spirit smudged in grime;
A skilled musician without a band.
What was this beauty,
In a ribbon of rags?
Who kept her keepsakes,
In plastic garbage bags.
With her beat up instrument,
She played strong and sure;
Focused chaos –
Nothing could distract her.
Her skin sparkled from salt crystals,
That still clung to her from the day before,
When she performed on a seawall
Before a crowded breezy shore.
Sometimes she sang,
And other times she hummed,
But no matter what she did, with confidence
She always, always strummed.
She closed her eyes and smiled
Like she knew something they did not;
And all the while played her guitar
For anyone within earshot.
Her audience made judgment calls
That left them feeling on edge,
As if it was they and not she
Who would one day wind up on some ledge.
For it was she who entertained for pennies
She who made her home on the street
And it was SHE who collected money
In an old tweed-case laid open at her feet.
She intrigued them until
Her voice was hoarse and her fingers bled.
Then like a far off rolling tide she and her music
Faded into a setting sun of fiery red.