In a filthy room
the sun scrapes through the windows,
landing in mottled sunbeams along the floor
and half-lighting her feet,
kicking in the bright puddles.
When you open the door,
her face is lined with hushed equivocation.
Now that you are here –
well, maybe you’d better not be –
until she opens her mouth.
Like the clock chiming she questions,
each query punctuated with a silence
unmatched in depth or volume.
“Will you touch my stains with reverence?
Will you run your hands up and down my body with compassion?
Will you treat my wounds with gentleness?”
In a gown defiled she asks
questions that might not have answers;
begging for scraps
that might not have been woven.
She turns to bare the lace of her smock,
a white child’s dress stretched
over legs and hips and skin.
She turns to show the torn ribbon
lining her hat, her purse;
your unspoken answers go mute,
until she lays herself in your hands.