It is sometimes said they are de las urracas, these beggars of Talahra, who,
with rags and palm leaves, build nests in the city's tight alleyways; who do
not work or swear and who eat only once a day.
At dusk they leave their alleys and collect the stray bits of the day and
search out those doorsteps on which old women have left fruit and unleavened
bread. They lift their feet only slightly, but they do not raise dust in
Among them there is a man named Bernard who has worn away his teeth. He
grinds his food into a mild pulp with his finger and calloused palm, using
the small stones of the fruit to crush what will not give.
During the day he folds his legs into the stray ribbon and paper of his
nest. And he carefully fills his mouth with smoke, so that his prayers might
have more weight.