In the dim light, she was difficult to decode. Sitting
in the corner, head resting against the wall,
pyramid shadows turned her into impressionistic art,
bisected chunks of cloth and flesh and leather.
The patrons rushed past her clutching
their paper cups and sighing in relief, some in near
shameful ecstasy, as the warm, caffeine brownness
slipped over their eager tongues.
tongues. mouths. lips. words. An absence.
A ceaseless presence. She was in love, always. Mostly,
she loved knowing and being known. If they would have stopped
to look, they could have made out her hand
shaking as she lifted her drink through the murk
of her dark spot. In this teeming room she was
alone. Fifty-seven or twenty-three? Plain or breathtaking?
She sipped, and with her other hand, slowly caressed
the revolver, embryonic in her benched purse.
© Julie Ayers
* A recent shooting on the first day of school in a Maryland caused me to ruminate on how little we understand about people who decide to carry out acts of public violence, against themselves or others.