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Pausing in the Doorway

In the window at the Donut Den in Medford, Oregon
I reflect with the vacant, yellow stools,
the slick Formica tables, not a crumb,
and look out through my face to the darkened parking lot.
A guy sits on the bus bench mumbling in the cold
alone in this town that must be America.
Some glazed-looking neighbors just off a swing-shift
wander past the Bargain Mart.
Let’s save for the good life!
My wrinkles stand out in the light
of my fiery heart, reprimanding,
you have doubted your worth for years,
concealing your scars, knowing
that other women with bellies
and blue-veined thighs hide their lives
in a similar disguise. Citizens in the land of freedom!
I refuse to paint my eyes. My lips are the color of flesh,
I am shaped like the earth, my hands
lined like a map that leads to death.
If I am not beautiful it is because
I do not think so,
my poverty caused by the lack
of what I think I want and do not have.
Someday the power of love may walk me home
where my life has stood like a mannequin,
stripped down. I did not mean to be alone.
It slowly surrounded me like the sound of a radio
left on all night, cheating my sleep.
The news is the same each day, unyielding.
I say this way makes life easier
but the beloved waits, dormant in my heart.
Full of hunger, familiar with the diversion of Safeway
I have gone to stroll the aisles, a tourist
filling my bag like an eager mouth.
Pains lives in the dark of this hole, we cover it
quick as a burial. Sincere as prayer, I swear to God,
if you were my neighbor I’d ask you to dinner,
then wonder, if god is my nature this must be my heaven.
Tonight I saw the dark like a light blown out,
a cover to crawl under where I fell, undone.
I knew I needed someone. My dreams
have been hidden as stones deep in the ground.
I walk on the land of promise, head down,
staring at stains on the pavement
while the sky opens wide, facing dawn.
Coming up the moon is a dime shining on asphalt
in the rain. Coming over, that poor man takes the dime
into his flat pocket. Coming to this place I have woken up.
Seeing through my face aging on the glass
I know this is it. This is the choice
to live or watch through the window,
the color of my cheeks there, faint as a tear,
the ghost of my reflection now moving out toward the street
where I am filled with the breath of the world.
Pausing in the doorway I am like everyone, familiar
with isolation, nervous, but certain that we are not strangers
I raise my head to look you in the eye.