All That She Carried – Marianne Peel

Things carried, not willingly

Brave & Reckless

I.My former student Clara –

star of brilliance studying at Oxford –

clutches a chunk of concrete

from a construction site

in her hand, as she walks home today.

A windowless van

loaded with men

drives away,

laughing at her in the wake

of their exhaust.

Within five minutes

a man who claimsI’ve seen you

around lately,follows her, trails her,

until another woman joins her side,

walks with her.

II.Forty-five years ago,

waitressing, the manager at Denny’s

gut-punched me, knocked me onto the floor.

Because I had refused to park in the back lot

when I worked the graveyard shift.

Told me he was teaching me a lesson:

training me to prepare

for coffee counter 2am drunks

who would attack me in the unlit back lot,

shrouded by the cover of woods.

Forty years ago

a professor –reviewer of opera

and all things artful –implored me to

wear…

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