Shelf Life - Poem by Denise Antoni
Waiting on a down sized hill,
I find myself so much older.
Fussily not squinting into the taunting wind.
I bite instead the chap-
Stick from my lip.
Over my head cables
Jostle and whip. The bus-stop
Pushes my shoulder.
I'm not standing on my own
Two feet. My eyes well,
Peering at a hand-drawn map,
Ready to screw up again.
I don't comprehend
The businesses of humanity.
I see you now. With your skill stripped,
Under a stone sky, turned cold.
Your reasons out-sourced.
Your free will swapped for quick thrills,
Your seasons divorce
You from me. But you are me. New lamp for old.
The wind twists the metal sign
And the concrete standing in for my spine.
With eyes closed I still see
You, the under-dressed child.
Even now, on the shelf.
Top, bottom, page three.
You're all along the side of the bus,
Or waiting at the end of the terrace,
Waiting to be me.
It's a bloody laugh.
It's a crock full of shit.
An industry of secrecies,
A ministry of conspiracies
That age after age grafts
Your blood to such unpromising masts,
And yields you such thin pedigrees.
You'll never learn
The half of it.
The dummied-up child mum,
And the tucked-up old girl.
You and me. Us.
Spoon-fed, depressed, under-dressed. So
We have nothing now but time, biting the hand
We feed on. That child become this woman.
No idea how I got here. No mind
For where I go.
But if the bus should ever show
On this windy hill, I'll travel.
If for no other reason
Than I once heard, somewhere,
That tables can turn.
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