A young woman, with a babe in arms, sits
beneath a mosaic of the Virgin
and Child under a medieval arch and begs.
Set in the tower above them is a clock,
which plays ‘Ave, ave, ave Maria’.
The narrow space is clogged with tourists
from the cruise ships and the tour buses.
Most do not give. She might be roma:
like the woman, begging with a toddler
near the amphitheatre, to whom we gave
but said nothing, did nothing seeing a
child of that age, though bonny enough,
play on the street. Something is wrong – such begging,
such indifference, such circumspection!
Have we all become senza anima –
without soul – or do these mothers love
their children beyond shame?