The Free Poem
The bard sat beneath
the blue awning of her market stall,
dressed in breeches of blue leather
and a tunic of blue silk.
Beside her sat silver cages
full of brightly colored birds,
singing and reciting poetry.
Now and then, she would put one
into a wicker basket for a shopper,
in exchange for coins or jewels
or, once, a side of venison.
Then the noon bell rang,
and the bard took out a little bird
with golden wings and scarlet face.
She tossed it into the air
and watched it flutter away into the market,
trailing a poem in its wake.
The juggler in the next booth,
who was new,
dropped his balls in surprise.
“What did you do that for?” he said.
The bard laughed.
“Because,” she explained,
“when people see it, they wonder
where they can buy one of their very own!”