With hunger, cold, on a cardboard scrap(2), the poor old man outstretches his
shaking, helpless hand.
Tired hand, that can take no more and soon gives up, empty.
Now only the vacant stare, deceived, suffering, seeking understanding.
So sad an anxious stare from one awaiting, from someone, a gesture of love.
So the hours pass, he waits and waits for alms, his strength ebbing away, as
inside he despairs.
In a last possible effort, he touches the dry tatters(3) , he tugs the grimy
blanket, and in the most dramatic scene, clinging onto his rags he sighs, now
calm and serene, the last breath of his life, as slowly he expires.
But there'll be no tears, there'll be no vigil, nor mourning, it's just one
more dying beggar, under the viaduct.
1 Editor's note: Viaduct or Overpass: an expression of solidarity of
the Sem-Terra with other destitute and excluded people, the
Sem-Teto (Roofless) beggars who live under the Chá Overpass in
the centre of São Paulo. The poem, written in 1988, is a part of the
(unpublished) collection by Araci Cachoeira, with the title Poemas de
São Paulo (Poems of São Paulo). The author says that she
found herself in that city one very cold night, when she saw the beggar breathe
his last breath. For him, nothing more could be done. Moved by a deep feeling of
solidarity, she interrupted her journey to write this requiem.
2 Editor's note: Cardboard: the beggars who live in the public spaces
underneath the viaducts use cardboard boxes as improvised shelters or put up the
equivalent of a wall to gain some privacy.
3 Editor's note: In the original poem, the word estilangado,
a regionalism of the Mucuri River Valley for rags, tattered dress, is used.