Painted Ladies

The ladies I see
Are not painted
But have been
Stripped of much


Somehow they
Keep going forward
Presenting themselves
In a harvest of hues
Despite the weather

And a lady
Carried the hurt
Down Mission Street
One Friday

Walking past the
Suitcases looking for
A place to unload what
Is left

Into her cellphone
She unloads:

Motherfucker, don’t
Give me that shit. I told
You not to mess with me

And her blackness
Was dyed another shade
And walking towards her
Was an older black woman
Pushing a grocery basket

And the younger woman
Continued into her
listen motherfucker…

And the older woman
Stopped, her head rising,
Her eyes following the
Younger woman

Excuse me sister,
She said

She walked over to
The younger woman
And gently took a hold
Of her arm

And words were

And soon the
Younger woman and
Older woman were laughing

And the younger woman
Waved her hand as if touched
By the spirit and said, “Lord
Have mercy, I know that’s right”

And they parted
With the words,
God bless you sister

And Mission Street
Kept going:

The street sweeper
Kept sweeping

The paletero kept
Selling his ice cream

The palm trees
Kept being what
They were

And the older
Black woman pushed
Her empty grocery basket


© 2016 Tony Robles.


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