STREET SWEEPS (from China Series) by Julie Hamel

The street sweeps wear straw hats
To cover their parched faces.
They are the elders of China

Grandmothers
Sweeping after their children and grandchildren
Lifting little clouds of dust with their brooms
Or making little mounds of leaves on the side of the road.

They keep their heads down mostly
But sometimes they look up
To peer at those who ignore them.

The street sweeps, like frail figurines
Against sky scrapers,
Wear straw hats
To cover their parched faces,
To cover their childhood memories of
Massacres.

They remember Nanking and still,
When they see me, and I them, they smile
Moon-bright smiles.

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