The Old Woman on the Cathedral Steps. {Poem}

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homeless woman

If I saw you again, I would ask:
Who are you and what do you want?

You would answer me:
I am nobody. I want nothing.

I sat here on this spot. Years ago now. It was November and very cold. Remember?
My bones ached in the chill air coming in off the Rhine and my breath made clouds in front of my face.
You saw me. I know you did.

I saw you look and then look away. I made you uncomfortable.
I was hoping someone would see me.
As a person. As someone’s daughter.
Not just an old dirty bundle of cloth and shaking hands and pleading eyes.
Out of all the people walking up the steps, I saw you after all.

And when I saw you I hoped…
But you ducked your head and passed me without smiling.
It was November. It was so cold.
I needed to be seen. I thought I’d come to the right place.
It was the only place I could think of where I might have had a hope.

But when nobody in the crowds filing by me would meet my eye,
I began to believe they didn’t see me.
It was an uncanny sensation.
Like I didn’t exist. Wasn’t there.
I couldn’t stay much longer.
I was dying of the cold.
Everything was grey and biting and the cathedral steps were hard.

By the time you came back out again, I was gone.
You saw God in the dark beauty of the cathedral.
You saw God in the stones and the statues and the artwork on the walls.
Yet you could not see God in me.


Relephant read:

Next Time you See a Homeless Person, Give them 5 Minutes of your Time.


Author: Colleen Berge

Apprentice Editor: Taija Jackson // Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Franco Folini/Flickr // Hamed Parham at Flickr


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About Colleen Berge

Colleen Berge is from the prairies of Manitoba, Canada. After short stints living in Germany and Iceland, she now resides in Southern Norway with her Norwegian husband. They have two small sons, one from Sri Lanka and one from Chile. An idealist, dreamer, writer, traveler, eternal learner and lover of life, it’s fair to say there are pieces of everywhere tucked away safely in this writer’s heart.


2 Responses to “The Old Woman on the Cathedral Steps. {Poem}”

  1. Sarah Norrad says:


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