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After Dark

Now, you see, her commute is a treacherous one.

 

Trapped inside from nine to seven,

she waits for distant windows to darken,

for her reflection to sharpen,

and paces down an endless stretch of gray.

Then she steps onto the street and walks, head up and eyes open.

Oh, she’d love to put earbuds in, but ears must be open, too.

 

She crosses the leaf-strewn road;

a rusted truck sits idly by.

Its driver, he watches her blouse shift

and waits for green.

 

She avoids eye contact

with the grey-bearded smoker by the curb, but he

follows her long legs north

and exhales slowly west.

 

She passes a basketball court, near swallowed in shadow.

Teenage eyes peer out

and trace her curves

with greedy stares.

 

She waits several moments

for a cab to notice she’s waiting.

Then she lifts her skirt hem

just an inch or two

and surprise! the next driver pulls over,

to offer (with a smirk)

his foul-smelling,

litter-strewn seat.

 

She finally reaches her door

and finds a neighbor,

newspaper in hand,

poised to say ‘Good Evening!’

to the buttons at her chest.

 

She slams the door and

escapes those eyes,

those hungry eyes,

those eyes that see nothing

but flesh.

 

Don’t walk home alone

dad said

 

It’s not safe for women to be out at night

mom warned

 

Hairy Leg Stockings: discourage potential perverts!

they advertised

 

Cover up a little

he demanded

 

Show ‘em some cleavage! (because otherwise you’ll never get a man)

she advised

 

She was asking for it

they whispered

 

Men are dangerous, predatory, and I am their prey.

I’m supposed to seduce them

to fear them

to depend on them

(to cook for them!)

and somehow to always want them

she thought.

 

Funny how

after ten interminable hours in the office,

working toward a paycheck twenty-one percent smaller

than the man’s one cubicle over,

the hardest part of every day

is her commute home at seven.

 

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