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Juanita Beresford-Redman

Women at Risk
–after Donald Justice

Women at risk
learn to nail shut
doors to rooms they will never
use again.

Alert, they cook the evening meals
and listen for the elevator's click,
a ragged step, floorboards shifting
with the weight of keys in locks.

Chameleon-like, they lid
their staring eyes, and begin
to disappear, to blend into the counter tops,
the cabinets, the fragile china cups.

They avoid mirrors
that flash subliminal images of a girl
with rouge-spotted cheeks, twirling
triumph in mother's new skirt

and the face of that mother,
warm, wrinkled from sleep, who hovered
in the night, offering coffee-scented whispers.
Something is stirring

like a moan, wounded
and buried, a mantra thrumming
in their ears, beating against the walls
of their tiny fourth-floor kitchens.

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