I Didn't Even Know Her Name

I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW HER NAME
by Jaci

She lived in the neighborhood,
not close enough to me to be a neighbor,
but in the neighborhood.
We never met.
I know her only as she was known
by others, a sloppy housewife,
who had "let herself go"
as they say.
A women who displayed,
at the slightest opportunity,
the feminine weakness for
talking too much of too little,
her words like clutching fingers
keeping the efficient from their efficiency.

I saw her once,
from a distance,
just after three of an afternoon,
that time of day when neighbor women
tend to feel most acutely
the prick of significance
of their many roles.
She seemed so insignificant,
as she shuffled out to her doorstep
with disheveled hair and gesture,
an indecisive form in a torn bathrobe.

As I passed her by
I told myself a secret,
so softly that I wouldn't
hear it myself,
that she made me feel so superior.
Her mere existence provided
the proper contrast
for appreciation of me.
Others, too, must have
shared my secret,
for they left her carefully alone,
as if fearing contamination.

One evening,
not long after I had seen her,
she got up from her bed,
where she had been spending
more and more of her time.
She must have heard the voices
the laughter, the living sounds
of her children,
as she walked quietly across the room,
loaded,
waiting,
for something that might happen.
And for one moment, perhaps,
she realized her significance
as she thrust the gun between her lips
and put a period
to the endless sentence
without subject
which had been her life.
And I
when I knew it all
was sick
with the sweetness of my superiority.


Reprinted from
I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW HER NAME...
A COLLECTION OF POEMS
by JACI
Drawings: Ann Aslanidis
Computer Enhancement: Nikki Craft
I Didn't Even Know Her Name

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