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Bruise blue

Written by: Dale Harcombe | Biography
 Frail as smoke, she drifts
  through the crowded train, 
  bringing with her 
  the cold ashes of poverty. 
  Without a word, her bruise-blue eyes 
  try to niggle each passenger 
  to part with coins or a note.

  The sign pleads her story:
  Three children in foster care.
  Like promises of happier times, some 
  passengers toss hard-edged confetti 
  at her, before hiding behind 
  newspapers or over-loud
  conversations. Others dismiss 
  her like an errant child 
  with swift, silent shakes of their heads.

  I look at her canescent face 
  and know I have seen her before, 
  on a grey, Sydney day in George Street. 
  ‘Homeless, hungry, and cold’
  her sign read then, as she curled
  like a cloud on the footpath 
  near Town Hall.

  In the dusk of a blustery day,  
  people, toting bags emblazoned 
  with designer labels, walked past. 
  Their gaze sliding away from her like water, 
  they turned toward the nimbus 
  of lights across the street, glittering 
  like angels in the trees. 

  I walked on too, then wished I had
  turned back. But the tide
  flowed against me. 
  With nothing else to give 
  I came home and wrote a poem. 

© May 2003 Dale Harcombe
  First published Artlook February 2005