When I was young, I used to

Watch behind the curtains

As men walked up and down the street. Wino men, old men.

Young men sharp as mustard.

See them. Men are always

Going somewhere.

They knew I was there. Fifteen

Years old and starving for them.

Under my window, they would pause,

Their shoulders high like the

Breasts of a young girl,

Jacket tails slapping over

Those behinds,


One day they hold you in the

Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you

Were the last raw egg in the world. Then

They tighten up. Just a little. The

First squeeze is nice. A quick hug.

Soft into your defenselessness. A little

More. The hurt begins. Wrench out a

Smile that slides around the fear. When the

Air disappears,

Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,

Like the head of a kitchen match. Shattered.

It is your juice

That runs down their legs. Staining their shoes.

When the earth rights itself again,

And taste tries to return to the tongue,

Your body has slammed shut. Forever.

No keys exist.

Then the window draws full upon

Your mind. There, just beyond

The sway of curtains, men walk.

Knowing something.

Going someplace.

But this time, I will simply

Stand and watch.



Written by Maya Angelou

%d bloggers like this: