Hard like a stone is hard
or the teeth of an alligator hard.
She is built to last a lifetime
of misery and blues. Her eyes
are blue – the color of a bonnet
on a baby boy, the boy in the photograph
lost in the war. There are things we left unseen
because some are better half-hidden
–like the lower half of the mermaid.
Because she is one of us we pretend
she will one day become what we want her to become.
Her eyes have always been stone-hard.
Change will not come to those who do not wish it.
Change comes to those who wish it or not.
Electricity goes out in spurts.
The doctors demand payment up front.
You get nothing if you have nothing.
We may seduce her with music and songs,
bring in an oboe player whose lips move like a snake charmer.
She remains unmoved by the noise.
Why do they feed this to us? She asks again,
while swallowing the cold pudding the nurse-aide
left on the small table. This thing they gave us, she says,
it promises fulfillment, but becomes nothing in our stomachs.