The Woman with the Black Shawl

I’d gone to Venice Beach with a photography group and saw this woman walking back and forth along the boardwalk in front of the tourist shops. She moved without stopping as if in a trance. Her movements reminded me of Alzheimer’s patients I’d seen in a dementia care unit. Without warning, she suddenly stopped in front of a fast-food stand. I made this single image and later wrote a poem about the experience.

The Woman with the Black Shawl


She paces the sidewalk in front of Muscle Beach,

Paces down, meanders back,

Flops her arms in disjointed angles,

Adjusts her shawl, tugs on her faded flowered dress.


To the gentrified tourists aiming twelve gauge, zoom lenses,

Preying on the creatures of Venice Beach:

Tight fleshed weight lifters with full purses,

Graffiti costumed freaks,

Teen-age girls boxed in string bikinis.

I’d seen her pace before

In the halls of the dementia ward

Where my wife sunk into a bed,

A stone that not even a Moses could summon water


Had a measure of care.


The homeless woman with the black shawl turned

toward the incoming fog

That sheltered her like a prayer.

ʒ=� �

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.