She is Me/She is You

coming out of the bakery

with my bush tea and salt-fish pate

i saw her sitting on the steps across the street

holding the white baby-dolly

draped in a dirty cloth

and she was right out of my head

a story i’ve been writing

about her

about women like her

about myself

about all of us who are really her

i wanted to go to her and ask

how the baby doing

what a pretty child

she looks just like you

but i was reluctant

to even acknowledge her

least what she has

rubs off

catches me too

the line of demarcation

sane to insane

home to homelessness

so thin

almost invisible

to many

and as i sat in my car

i thought i should photograph her

document the moment

how she walked from my head onto the street

but i know in every city

on many streets

there are these women and men

whose chord on life is so taut

sometimes it snaps

and they become those

we see and shake our heads in quiet understanding

or we suck our teeth at in disgust

too afraid of what they remind us

or would prefer to forget

or we snicker at them thinking

dem so stupid

look how she mek a little thing break her

she not the first to loose a child

she not the first man leave

all the things we tell ourselves

to distance ourselves

to not see that she is us

the same one/the same us

i don’t know her specific story

this comely young black woman

sitting on the steps in Christiansted

this Friday morning

cradling the white dolly baby

as if it is her child

maybe she was raped

maybe she is a victim of incest

maybe she could not have a child

maybe she took drugs and her children

were taken from her

maybe she just wants to sit there

cuddling the dirty dolly baby

that she found somewhere

or maybe someone gave her

i don’t know

but i want to you

i want to sit with her

and just listen

and believe every word

she tells me

for every word is

her truth

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