by Christopher Raley
It startled me. I can tell you that much.
Quiet street ends at busy one–four lanes.
I turn right onto it. Van at left
turns right off of it.
Like the audience of a badly timed stunt,
we stop and we stare though desperately
we want to move.
Bright green eye-shadow, demonstrative and fake
lashes, lips the color of someone’s wound,
(but a wound from which he long ago died),
these are paints of mockery on a face
age has entrenched for the last ugly battle
with overpaid confidence in beauty.
What appears hesitation is in fact
equilibrium fighting for balance
with the sway of stiff hips and
swing of black leather purse.
What little of her I see behind her mask
is the duck taped smile of someone’s
school girl fling played over
and over and over in decades’ sprawl
of seeking and finding attention.
I laugh . . . as she passes before my truck
and then before his van. But laughter dies
when I see him watching her.
He is revolted the way users
look, rate, and are revolted.
I attend again the four lanes before me.
For once all the little rats in the race
serve me well. I turn into their fear,
merge with their anxiety,
and I hide my shame between bumpers.