living to live

A Lesser Extreme




The brittle bristles 

On her scrubbing brush 

Are cracked and worn,

Her polishing cloth frayed,

And in between

Each piece of silver she shines,

Blossoms a dream

From the musty cellars

Of million dollar mansions.


Dusting off family portraits

Framed in 24 karat carvings,

She wonders about a friend

That was lost in her long days,

Ended in between pages 

Of the romance novels

Read but never lived,

Felt but never touched.


Across the room

An envelope leans against 

A hand painted china doll,

Inscribed with her name,

Inside it, a worthy note 

To satisfy a hard day's work,

But that is not why she comes.


As she locks the door,

And sets the alarm,

Her cellphone rings,

And she hears the same sound

She has heard every night for 27 years,

The voice of he, whom she will never meet.


With a soulful smile,

She perches herself regently

On the ripped vinyl seat of the cab.

She nods to the cabby peering into the rear view mirror.

She powders her nose.


Another day,

Another cab ride,

Another walk up the stairs

To her one bedroom flat.


She drops a shiny quarter 

In the rusted can of the man sitting 

On the stoop next to a sign that reads "will live for nothing".


She runs fresh water over her houseplants,

Eats, showers, and reads.


And says good morning to the night.






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