My shoes make a satisfying clack when I walk.
Still under warranty.
I have a 401K
and I’m not hungry right now.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I don’t actually remember
the last time I was really hungry.
I’m just a middle aged white woman and from the outside,
it looks like I have my shit together which makes me
fade into the background sometimes.
But that’s not the whole story.
I remember searching the floor board of a Chevy Nova that hadn’t run in months.
I was looking for loose change so I could buy cheap beer
and fuck an unemployed waiter that I didn’t even like.
I remember when one of my husbands got so angry
that he put his fist right through the kitchen window,
blood dripping down and freezing into the crunching snow.
I remember the day my sister took the trouble
to carry an old chair down twenty-seven stairs into her damp basement.
She tied twelve knots in the cord and then she hung herself from the rafters.
When I found her, her feet were pointing like a ballerina.
I remember thinking I was right hundreds
- no thousands -
of times, but in reality being so, so wrong.
I remember getting an abortion and doing shots of Jack afterwards.
I remember ripping one marriage to shreds.
My point is
this life is much more complicated than you think.
It’s painted over thickly with gray.
There is so much shattering in every life.
Vessels meant to hold come crashing to the ground.
Windows, used not so much to see out,
but useful for keeping the predators at bay,
they break, too,
the tinkling of glass waking you in the dark of the night.
So when you encounter a chain link fence, climb.
Immediately check for metal barbs and seek a soft spot for landing.
Understand that dogs are lying in wait.
Hungry dogs, stupid dogs,
dogs that have been beaten and kicked,
jowls swinging and dripping like ham hocks in a meat locker.
These dogs are ticking off the seconds,
watching as you work the tips of your boots into each silvered diamond.
Sweat, salty and thick, beading a line on your forehead
as you navigate the loops and whirls of wire which are
poised to slice your palms.
the dogs wait to lap your blood.
This is what it is like to live in this world.
You will struggle to your feet weary and panting
more times that you ever thought possible.
And do not think you know what love is.
I swear to you on my word, it will change a thousand times.
And so, if middle aged white women wrote slam poetry,
I think they would say
it’s rough out there. Be careful, sweet cheeks.