she’s cold, huddled in a doorway,
furtive glances revealing her fear
of forcible removal from
this space, which is not her home
but all she has, before
even this is denied.
she wakes before dawn, sullenly pulls on
jeans and a t-shirt, waiting for the woman
who is her only source of hope. in her presence
she recovers–even if for a moment–
absorbing light, healing from brokenness,
restoring family, shelter, worth.
her stomach churns as vile words are
hurled vindictively at her unprovoked–
emboldened by hostile public rhetoric.
she’s in line to pay for a few items
at the checkout. she deserves peace,
equal respect, dignity–just like me.
she clutches her throat as she sends
him out into the night. he has a job to do,
and as taillights disappear, she knows that,
without warning, he may be deemed a threat,
skin too dark, wrenching from him the
right to turn that key ever again.
she writhes in cold sweat, reliving each
forceful submission to power, secrecy,
violation which she’s been sworn to seal
tightly to her breast, never revealing
his flagrant demands to take what
is not his, and now no longer hers.
i could look away, coddled in endless
layers of privilege: “it requires too much,
holds no promise for me,” but in so doing
close my heart, sell my soul, dull my spirit.
i would miss these pillars of strength among us,
the least of these, who are rising and are
the ones who will keep this house together.
follow me on Instagram: @julia_penner_zook
© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo Credit: Joel Filipe / @joelfilip via Unsplash.com
In the coming weeks I will release a pre-publication booklet featuring photography and excerpts of longer poems – similar to this post. A more complete release is coming at a later date. Stay tuned for more details.