Dancing Dresses


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Shivering in a jacket much too thin
for this night of sleet and freezing rain
She wanders in mad dog attack darkness
feeling for the strength to step one
more feeble step, knowing panic
well enough to call it by its first name
She had felt the approaching void
screamed to God, but his cell was
out of minutes, as many times before
Insanity rode her like a jockey
who was hell-bent-for-leather
Given a treasured bus pass, she rode
the streets of Nowhere and End-of-the-line
Had to find a place to sleep
Had to hide away
Safe place, no rapes tonight
At a familiar stop she descends
the steps of her mobile champion
Home called her
Home was there
just up the street
before the trees
Pausing on the sidewalk she watched
the Dale Kincaid lights in her home -
that was hers no more
She chose him, married him, so
tough luck, baby
you’re screwed now
Ice Storm
Incredibly cold
Stumbling into the grocery store
parking lot, she sees the wink of
a Goodwill donation truck
Under it are parcels and pieces
like presents under a Christmas tree
Needles sewed the ice pellets to
cheeks as hollow as yellow eggs
sucked out to make beautiful art
Jacket no warmer than a shirt
Last place she stayed, they stole
her coat and put her out at 3:00 A. M.
Threw her into the night rain
Sleep sucked her at the way a baby
sucks at the teat where warm milk is
A little mouse
afraid of cops
who ask her
where she’s going
They know damn good and well she
isn’t going anywhere she hasn’t
already been, but wherever she is
they don’t want her there
Ducking beneath the Goodwill truck
she sees bags and wonders if a warm
coat might be crouching there, waiting
Won’t do to dig, cops roust you for that
In one brave swoop she picks up a
little suitcase, as forlorn as herself
Scurrying away, rat-like
smelling her sour fear
she heads for the urban woods
Just past home
that is not home
dragging the bulk of an old refrigerator
carton by the string around it,
she feels the burden
blow up and knock her in the knees
Not young
Not well
Not sane
Fucked up
The trees welcome her
They twinkle like stars in the sleet
Fever grips her like an avid lover
Got to go in far enough no one sees
Brittle brush fingers grab at her
Hidden hazards laugh if she falls
But the suitcase is a comforting
Finds a fallen log, a hollow by it
Lines the refuge with cardboard
Trembling like a virgin lover
she opens the suitcase and there is no coat
There are dresses
Sparkling dresses
Cocktail dresses
unyielding dresses
Alive with sequins and tulle
that pulls itself out of her swollen
Jackie Kennedy dresses
Rich woman’s baubles, but no coat
Freezing rain coats her hair
Cools her fevered cheeks
Leg infected where he shot her
yellow pus running down her leg,
gluing her pants to flesh
Pulling the fabric away tears skin too
Half the dresses make a pallet
Half the dresses make a slippery
covering, sequins sliding
That suitcase, Judas, liar
serves as a tent when put upside down
over the log and some brush
Keeps the worst out of her eyes
It would be logical that she die by morning
but she never seemed to have a bit of luck

Sherry was homeless for two and a half years due to domestic violence. Not a young woman, but one nearing fifty, she found herself in an unknown and dangerous world.


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