Primitive Figures


(internet photo)

Her voice, a gentle breeze
softly turns my ears.
Her eyes, dark waters,
submerge her hard earned wisdom.
A newsprint roll is tucked under an armpit.
Primitive figures on colorful cards she is selling,
dance behind dirty plastic.
She brushes stray hairs from her face.

I smile across our class, our heritage, our histories.
We are two feet apart, miles away from contact.
She lowers her eyes. I squirm in my casual trappings.

I offer money to purchase her cards. I talk too fast,
smile too broad. My rabbit-hopping heart cannot
keep up to my whirling dervish mind. The heavy air is
difficult to breathe.

She chants gratitude, over and over, head bowed.
I tell her, “It is nothing, really, no problem at all.”
I leave, my center hollow,
nothing to redeem me,
nothing at all.

Tarnished Tiara

Her zombie steps shuffle along streets and alleys,
hair knotted and matted in unintended dreadlocks.
The cracked husk of her tarnished veneer reflects,
momentarily, in a boutique window and catches her eye.

Startled, she stares.

She glimpses a forgotten piece of her former self
beyond the plate glass. Flickers of another life
glint like sunshine on the glazed surface. Her
eyes close against the brightness.

A businessman in a navy suit, talking on his phone,
bumps her out of her reverie. He hurries on
without a glance, like stepping over dog shit.

She withdraws,
a hermit crab sliding into the safety of her shell,
disappears into her invisible life, slinking
along the streets.