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-
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.
you and your gaping mouth
eyes clenched tight
with me walking by
on a street I never bother to
transfixed on something
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
the black hole on
your stranger’s face makes
an escapist of me.
Inside my darkened cave
I grumble and whimper
and wait for the sun’s
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.
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
and I wonder where
their hurt lives
whether they’re like me,
hiding it behind smiles and loud stories
You don’t ever bother to give a reason
but I know you have plenty of them
and stored away inside your head
in case I ever bothered to question
demand my dignity restored
Your selfishness and arrogance,
which you convince yourself is justice
You were wronged
Now we’ll be even
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 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