Below Nadine Molas’ balcony,
In the exercise yard of the Perpignan prison,
The prisoners seek out patches of sun,
Shake off the night chill
Or lean against the wall reading letters
And wait for the guard to throw out a volleyball.
Penned in the shade
Two guard dogs scratch and lick themselves.
They whimper and leap up to pace
Then hunker down to gnaw their own shanks,
Or chase birds that settle in the sparkle
Of the broken wine bottles
Embedded atop the prison wall.
But Tuesdays, everything waits for Nadine
To hang out her linen, the black bra
That she twists so it spins above.
A prisoner below begins to swagger
And gesture obscenely puckering his lips
To make loud sucking noises.
Why this has become Tuesday’s event,
No one really knows.
A neighbor across the hall says
That her man is a prisoner there.
The neighbor below says she’s a drunk
With a penchant for pickpockets.
It has become become the way St. Mark’s
Begins its Tuesdays, the neighborhood
Awake and listening as Nadine
Shakes her fists and shouts down,
“Salaud gitane! Arab! Merdiste!”
Until below her the uproar scales
The broken glass of the wall and escapes
Down the alley into traffic.