The Woman Next Door

She was odd, they said. Eccentric. A strange one.
Blind in one eye, a Cyclops, she hid in the attic,
wrote dirty poems and, just to keep them all guessing,
she sometimes howled at the moon.

I saw her downtown, trolling  fast-food dumpsters
for bits of tossed burgers or left-over potatoes.
Dressed in black from felt hat to laced slippers.
Patch over that obscene bottomless space
on her forehead, I expected her to soar suddenly
upward, broom under one arm, chanting incantations.

At the time, I was prone to odd fantasies of my own.

Once, the unexpected feather-like touch of her hand
startled me--not harsh, like the rough beating wing
of a killing hawk, but more that of a baby bird.
Lost. Hungry. Frightened. In search of its home

Pris Campbell

Published in Verse Libre 2005

This poem took second place in the July PBL
Intraboard poetry competition. Here are the 
judge's comments:

We both liked the fact that the woman portrayed in this poem does not end up a stereotype, but rather is revealed as a fragile human being. We were taken into her world because of the detailed imagery in the stanzas. At first led to believe that she is a strong eccentric individual, the poet successfully reveals her in a different light. The narrator is changed in the way he or she views the woman. The old myth of the woman is broken when after touching her the narrator is forced to accept her humanity. We felt the poem succeeded in charting these changes and revelations, and also in presenting the complexities of the character."

Art: Homeless Woman by Ann Marie Rousseau
   Ann Marie Rousseau has photographed homeless     people extensively and published much of this work.
 Click HERE to visit her site to see more of her graceful photographs and to read her essays about the homeless.

 Image copyrighted and used with permission

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