There is an ancient woman
In the market near my home
Who walks the timeless amble
Of a battered soul alone.
Her pasted orange tresses
A marmalade cascade
Fall so stiffly down to where
Her hand is always laid
Clutching her treasure bag
She goes her way careless
Ignoring chiding glances
At her faded evening dress.

Her story hides in rumors
Whispered by those who work
In the shops and restaurants
Here near McArthur Park.
They say she was a movie queen
Or an extra in the silent days
And an accident at the studio
Made her bald unto this day.
She refused to remove the wig
She ran out crying, in costume
And now she is still wearing it
Hoping he will find her soon.

The woman at the pharmacy
Said her hair caught on fire
At a movie in the twenties
Her boss calls her a liar;
Says the leading man did it
In a fit of rage and jealousy
When she wouldn’t marry him
He set fire to the scenery.
Others heard that she was fired,
But she wouldn’t leave the set
So deep inside her mind
She really hasn’t left it yet.

Some have tried to talk to her
But she never speaks that much
Except inquiring prices and colors
Of the goods she chances to touch.
To direct questions and advances
She turns sadly away and leaves.
You can tell she is sensitive
You can tell by her face she grieves.
It is easy to see she is living
In some world that is not ours
Her world seems a place of gloom
Of thunderstorms and showers.

She caresses with her fingertips
Along the banisters she passes
And she seldom lets her gaze linger
Behind her smoked sunglasses.
Her satin dress has faded,
Like the color of her hair.
She still lingers in each moment
When she walks down the stair.
She never seems to notice those
Who stop and goggle at her
And they are many, these gawkers
But they just don’t’ seem to matter.

She seems to have accepted
What her life has now become.
She has been coming to the park
For decades more than some.
This may be a playground
For popeyed urban gnomes.
But this is where she shops
This decaying place her home.
This park is very much like her
Many ages past its prime.
The vestiges of past glory
Have not been erased by time.


2 thoughts on “MacARTHUR PARK MADONNA

    1. kauaiartist Post author

      I am so glad you liked it. However, as she was about seventy or so in 1974, she is probably not anywhere now. Yes, there are similar lost souls in every city, I am sure. This one just happened to have a story many people knew. She was an actress in silent movies. MacArthur Park is a district between downtown L.A. and Hollywood and by the time I worked there, it had become a place where people down and out moved to live because it, like the Madonna, had faded from a once beautiful place of stately homes to fleabag hotels and the park had become a place of soapbox preachers, those people who howl at passersby and people who were no longer capable of keeping themselves up.

      Thanks for your fine comment. I saved it.

      Brent Kincaid


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