Gypsy Girl

In the Haunted Bookshop, in Sidney, I found a collection of  postcards depicting gypsy life in England, I think in the 1960s, certainly not any more contemporary than that.  A couple of them truly struck my fancy, particularly one of a gypsy girl, wringing out cloths by hand, in front of her cart.

On the postcard, there is a young girl;

She sits by a fire, wringing out a wet cloth.

She has long, lank blonde hair…those genes

Picked up in some forgotten somewhere,

Sometime in the long ramble of the Rom carts.

Behind her, an open-lot,

Looking like a miniature covered wagon.

She wears brightly patterned pants,

The sixties, then,

Her pants a discard, begged from a housewife.

Cool pants.  Groovy pants.

She does not need to be cool or groovy;

She needs to wring out the cloth.


In city co-ops and squats,

The pampered children of the middle class,

Dressed in flowing skirts and flowered shirts,

Dream of being gypsies.

They do not dream of being cold,

Of being told to move along,

To watch open-lots give way to lorries;

Horse power succumbing to horsepower.

They do not dream of wringing out wet cloths

On a cold morning in a country lane,

Coughing in the wood smoke,

And hoping for a breakfast,

But, as often as not,

Settling for some tea.


But, for all that,

And because I am a romantic,

I like to think she is still there,

In an open-lot, with children of her own,

Collecting, reusing, recycling, reselling

The cadged castoffs of our comfortable houses,

Wheeling and dealing, working the harvests,

Fortune-telling and horse trading at the country fairs,

And meeting at the old stopping places,

Marked with gypsy sign,

As the endless road unwinds before her.




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