ladies

“The Ladies of the Hour”, “Yawn” and “Not Yours”

by Annie Burdick

The Ladies of the Hour

The ladies sit in rigid chairs,

hands crossed in skirt-covered laps.

A silent room

made loud by expectations.


Miss Understanding smiles [knowingly]

but never speaks.

She fears the labels-

foolslutbitchuselesswoman-

but can’t live with the judgement.


Miss Take quietly steals bagels and donuts

from the untouched serving trays sitting

in the back of the room.

Miss Behavior watches

and frowns, though secretly envious

and so hungry.


Miss Interpret thinks she knows

everything about them.

But doesn’t see

any of the secrets the women keep

locked away beneath perfectly manicured updos

and nail polish that is never allowed to chip.


She is oblivious to the truth of them.

The miserable trophy wife and the ex-prostitute,

the unhinged over-eater and

and the one who rarely gets out of bed.

Most of all,

she ignores herself.

Insignificant, unnoticed.

Yawn

I.

Stranger--

you and your gaping mouth

eyes clenched tight

with me walking by

on a street I never bother to

remember

transfixed on something

mundane.

I fall in

sliding (stumbling?) into warm darkness.

I am the cold-weakened creature

preparing for hibernation

with my backpack on.


I’ve tried to understand

but can’t

something about

the black hole on

your stranger’s face makes

an escapist of me.


II.

Inside my darkened cave

I grumble and whimper

and wait for the sun’s

sweet return.

As salty rays trickle in

you may feel me clambering back

out of your yawn


back to the forgettable street

where I watch the strange faces pass

and forget yours almost immediately.


III.

As I walk on frozen

hoof-feet numbed by slush

my heart feels hardened,

but not by subzero chill


every face I pass by

reminds me that

they are all in pain too

some

days

and I wonder where

their hurt lives


whether they’re like me,

hiding it behind smiles and loud stories

Not Yours

You don’t ever bother to give a reason

but I know you have plenty of them

-practiced-

and stored away inside your head

in case I ever bothered to question

your actions

demand my dignity restored


Your selfishness and arrogance,

which you convince yourself is justice

You were wronged

Now we’ll be even

Please,


you owe me you owe me you owe me…


I wonder if you’d ever actually say

all of silky calculated things you think

if you had ever pictured

my guilt

my disfigured memories

the anxiety that follows me

and every paranoid minute of my life

or if you had ever

thought back and remembered.


my tears in that humid room

weren’t a clear enough no

to make you stop touching me


But I understand now—

by your self-serving calculations

we weren’t even yet

About the Author

Annie Burdick

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Annie Burdick is a writer, editor, and compulsive reader living in Minneapolis and having adventures whenever possible. She is also a freelance writer and editor. You can see more of her work at annieburdickfreelance.com.