An Excerpt from Long Exposure – poetry

Will I be happy.
How long will I live.
How will I live.

Will I always be able to pay eight dollars to spend two hours
walking through rooms of photographs.
Sorry when they call for donations, not this time.

A string of children ambles past, followed by a teen with hula hoops.
Later through the glass door onto the courtyard, vivid spins.
They spent the morning drawing.
When their parents come, they’ll go home.

We look and take notes and then we load glass leaf-shaped plates
with all that isn’t meat and pay by weight. Water in a jug for two.
Our window looks out onto an intersection onto which
a woman in an office window briefly leans as though she sees us.

My child now sleeping in another woman’s basement
on a roll-out mattress I’ve never seen, inches
from other women’s children, one of whom she says she loves.

If there were an after (there will be an after), the mattress,
would stew in flood, would thin to brittle, would grey with mold,
no her-shaped indentation left. Rolled up as evidence: someone small slept here
and then left.

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