Le Mendicant
A Narrative Poem/Flash Fiction

I make my way slowly toward la Gare du Nord, pass la Rue Phillipe de Girard. I lumber along at a slow pace. The ache in my feet shoots up my legs. The night was cold last night and us seventy-something’s have poor circulation, especially when we sleep in alleys.

At the entry to la Boulangerie, I pause, take in a deep breath and dream. The smell of bread, just coming out of the oven, fills me with pain. A young woman, dressed in a tweed business suit, three-piece, and three-inch heels, exits. She turns abruptly and walks hurriedly away from me. The scent of the baguette lingers like an expensive perfume. Its rough texture and golden color remind me of better days. Today I haven’t a sou in the pocket of my tattered jacket.

When I reach the station, I take my seat on the rough concrete of the steps leading to departures. The chill penetrates, creeps up my spine. As I extend my callused hand, I know what they think, but they don’t know my story. It hurts to look into their eyes and see them avert their own in embarrassment as they rush by. A few drop a coin or two, not enough for a loaf.

Counting them at the end of an hour, I think I may have enough for a small, day-old roll and a cup of black coffee. I stand, stomp my feet in hopes of regaining some sensation, and straighten my old back a bit at a time. Grasping the railing, I climb back to street level and make my way back to the bakery.

Maybe someday, someone will stop to listen and offer me the bread of understanding.

Written as narrative poetry/flash fiction, from a first person perspective, this is a fictional collage from a few images that linger with me from the time I lived in Paris. The reality is true world-wide.

– Victoria C. Slotto

© 2015, narrative poetry/flash fiction, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved

3 thoughts on “Le Mendicant

  1. Thanks for your comments. I would second the thought…to give what we can and, above all,that smile,the recognition that they are fellow travelers in this journey of life. I have heard people say that they are just going to buy booze…perhaps so. But that is not for me to judge.

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  2. Victoria this brought tears. I hate to think of anyone going hungry and having to sleep in alleys or beg for pennies, just so that they may eat. Very well written and sadly, all too true. I spare what I can when I can and I make sure to look at these people and smile, so that they know they have been seen as a real person. Thank you for sharing this.

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