Every woman has a reason to be beautiful

Hers was the way her eyes went partly cloudy

in whatever light she had, the way they

drifted into a shadow that obscured her smile,

how her face cleared so surprisingly

at a few words of praise

After months of leaving messages unanswered

she would phone well after midnight and plead

for me to drive to her apartment for a drink,

but I knew it was really for me to hold her

afterwards until she fell asleep

“Come with me, Bill,” she would plead

as if no man ever had,

and remembering the tragedy in her voice,

I sometimes want to sob

I stopped answering her calls when my urine

burned so badly I groaned over urinals,

the nails of one hand digging at the tile,

learning the hard way I was only one of many

On Sunday mornings leaning over half read news

at a table in the sunny courtyard off a coffee shop

where I go in hopes of seeing her one last time

walk past the wrought iron fence with the sway

of other young women of her kind –

trendy, well-dressed, bright and desperate

for a touch of love and worship –

I tell god, if there is a god somewhere,

god must do better

Women, like Cheryl, in their twenties or fifties,

I complain to god in the only words I know,

are nothing more or less than the beautiful daughters

of older men like me


Previous/Next/Social Justice/Home