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Sunday, November 21, 1993

upon slowly waking, she

upon slowly waking, she

rouses from a dream
of fear. Was it her life threatened by someone, waving
rusted weaponry, or had she herself sought to destroy

a trusted neighbor or loved parent? Suppressing
a moan, she notes spine filled with fluids overnight,
yes, again, and ankles still in pain. Across

the loved flanks of her partner she now crawls,
stumbles round the room to find the handle
of her life, or only the door, sliding her feet along.

A floor creaks with dry rot as she steps among
the objects that reshape her: bloomers, slips,
half-slips, girdles, bras tights and stockings.

She feels, Braille-fingered, for the small room where
all who seek may find that men or women are
only men or women; here they see themselves

before any others see, and by a harsh light.
Her eye looks deeply through her from the glass, and
tells her that her sorrows are contemptible. So?

She does not plan to die today, no, nor call in
sick, returning to the now-cold sheets, seeking
to resolve that awful dream. Call it what you will,

habit if you like, but she carries herself into
the living room, satisfactory sight, remodeled
somehow, despite poverty: white walls

and ceiling, cleanly textured, fireplace patched,
mantel graced with oil lamps and seemly books:
here she dresses. Outside, darkness, low

clouds, and the rattlings of busy downspouts.
She shrugs. Through kitchen to the cold mudroom,
listening to the change in foot-fall of her heels,

from wood to tile, to concrete, she moves on,
pace quickening. No entropy now stops her.
Gathering her bent umbrella and stained coat,

she opens a door and goes out to the world.

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