The Beggar

By Rhiannon Morris

They hear the hooves, gently, softly, steady on the path.

Eyes, slow to roll, heavy in carved sockets, move up and meet with a proud neck;

Like a dance, the crowd of people begin to move in unison.

Shuffling in rags, arms outstretched, their hands begin to turn, until flat palm, is held above dry heads covered in brittle hair.

Supplicate.

Religion and piety in the poor: the silent comi-tragedy that serves as a reminder of the triumph of man.

 

My head, was bowed, but I lift it when I hear the King pass by on his beauty.

My mouth is full of precious gold rings, teeth cracked and black, blood gurgling

Ridged, ready, poised to slide down my chin like Mary’s tear.

I offer him this wine, pouring upwards from my throat: “Won’t you grant me alms, king?”

Food, cloth, coin?

I concentrate my requests and petitions into my gaze, I load it with ammunition.

In another life, I could have been your soldier, when poverty did not reduce me thus.

 

Cries, low and grave, equal one hollow echo of loss. Moses’ sea drenching the royal procession, but their clothes, by some strange rejection of nature and science, remain dry.

The king, trim beard and dark eye, surveys the mass of bodies with recognition and intelligence, throwing his metal tokens of generosity, into strategic gaps.

Will you get off your horse and come amongst us?

He rides on, with strewn bells, clanging, clanging – unholy noise, how do you put up with the clamour and chaos of being king?

Of bustle, and demands?

Is this why you must, like a poultry pie, carve up your energy into sections? You are not God, though you are styled so.

Without omnipotence, you are only fatigable man, and must make one piece bigger than the other, and keep some for yourself.

 

I try, but I can’t help begging with the throng.

You must know your crown is weighted not only by metal, but by hope and need, from The Other.

We watch you turn. Your glacial eyes look on, to the palace.

 

Photograph: muriloyamanaka via Creative Commons and Flickr

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