Bag Lady, Christmas Eve,Manchester, NH, John Perrault, [2023:41]

“No room, sorry,” says the clerk
to our lady of little means
whose social security seems
to hinge on best wishes.

Clerk’s a stiff—why she slushes
her cart down Hanover, up Elm,
cross Lowell, now back—find a home
for the night. Getting dark.

Some frosted entry—awning—
baby Jesus in the window—
little lamb. Mary there? Peek through
the double plated glass.

Jim’s Men’s Shop. My good god yes.
Lord thank you Jim—for this manger,
those sheep, shepherds, angels—that star.
Just about everything.

And here’s everything she sets
in his doorway: bags, blankets, mat,
book, half a ham sub, can of Pabst,
chips, and—for what it’s worth—

a little peace on God’s Earth
for this one night. Tonight, my friends,
that clerk can take his half-ass inn
with no rooms and shove it.

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