A Prayer for the Old, Mendicant Wretch

She’s sat here for a hundred years,
here, at this bar.
Before it was even built,
before the old jukebox was even installed,
she was here
winking at Johns, and Jims, and asking their story.
Asking them to buy her a round.

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Since before time began, she’s been here.
Many men have known her love,
and her fury.
Many a butcher, tailor, and sailor alike
have kicked her from the bed
in the middle of the night.
They’ve cursed her name, and her craziness,
swore up and down they’d never do this again.

There’s no need to weep for her.
She wastes not a tear for herself,
why should we?
But if you would simply pray,
spare a prayer for the wretch.

O God, if you do exist,
and are indeed merciful,
strike this woman dead, this ageless beauty.
And we will erect a pile of stones
by the jukebox, in her honour.
And each passing sailor will pay respects
she never had the pleasure
of enjoying from the likes of them
and their sort
when she still drew ragged breath
through cracked, painted lips.

BSB

Original artwork by Leszek Harasimowicz
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