What’s Your Story?

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What’s Your Story?

I watched for her today.

The hunchbacked lady

In her soiled garb;

Scars of the yesteryears

In her face and arms;

Past agonies veiled

Behind lackluster eyes.

*

What’s your story old lady?

Who are you?

Where do you come from?

Where do you reside?

In a house?

Outside a dumpster?

In a cardboard box?

*

What’s your story old lady?

Does anyone love you?

Does anyone care?

If today you disappeared,

Would anyone search for you?

Would anyone notice

If you suddenly weren’t there?

*

What’s your story old lady?

Did your papa beat you?

Your Uncle molest you?

Your mama run off and leave you?

Were you trapped

In a world full of people,

Yet all alone?

*

What’s your story old lady?

Did your child die in a great fire?

Your one true love in Vietnam?

Was everything you loved

Snatched from your embrace?

Was your heart torn asunder,

Damaged beyond repair?

*

What’s your story old lady?

Why do you look like that?

Smell like that?

What drove you to eat from garbage cans?

Shut out the world?

I am obsessed with who you are,

With a need to know.

*

What’s my story?

Why do I persist?

Am I like the rest?

Look but do not see?

Pity, but keep my distance?

Wrinkle my nose in disgust,

Devoid of sympathy?

*

What’s your story old lady?

I must know.

Fear overtakes me;

Sweat pierces my brow.

You could be my mother, my grandmother,

If life had been different.

You could be me.

*

Do I hold the fate of my story

In the palm of my hands?

Who would I be

After a lifetime of grief?

A lifetime of sorrow?

Would I find myself alone?

Would your story become mine?

*

She stops;

Scavenges in the garbage can;

Searching for five-centers,

A morsel of food,

A discarded treasure.

She looks at me.

Can she sense my curiosity?

*

With a swish of her hand

She wipes the drip from her nose.

One more spot on her

Grotesquely soiled sleeves.

There she goes;

The old hunchback lady

With the story nobody knows.

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