John Short: In A French Village Bar

The Algerian girls play chess at night,
in a corner near the door.
They don’t fall over furniture
or dance across the floor.

They work maize rows from dawn till dusk
with bright and happy voices
and save their wages carefully
to spend on sensible choices..

No romantic liaisons looked for here,
no hanging round the bar.
They never come to sit with us,
just insouciance from afar.

The Algerian girls play chess and cards,
they came here for one reason.
To earn some money while they can
then leave at close of season.

Part of a row of maize with tassels