Question:

Susan Musgrave

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What do they think about you,

the people who pass you on the street?

What would you like them to see?

 

They see the druggie, the whore, the junkie.

I’d like them to see me as their daughter,

a sister, a lover, their mother.

 

They see garbage, blood, feces.

They see us in alleyways passed out in heaps,

sick, crazy for a fix.

 

I’d like them to see me as a dancer

who can’t remember the steps, a singer

whose voice has left her, a woman whose heart

has grown as empty as every naked hotel room

she's ever tried to check out of.

 

They see needles, spoons, condoms,

think HIV, AIDS. l want them to think

how hard I try to live.

 

When they cruise the street,

stop for a red light at the corner

where I stand waiting in the rain

 

they see scabs on my face, festering

sores, scars, rotting teeth.

 

When they rev their engines, crank

up the heat, I want them to see how the only

desire left in me is the desire

to make the best of it.

Susan Musgrave, "Question:" from Origami Dove. Copyright © 2011 by Susan Musgrave. Used with permission of The Bukowski Agency. All rights reserved.

Source: Origami Dove (McClelland & Stewart, 2011)