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Thin Skin


What sin did I commit in a past life
to deserve being so sensitive in this one?
Why does this man whose livelihood
is ferrying me from O’Hare to Madison
make me so sad, taking money for tickets
with fingers barren of rings? Why, when
I was little, did the plow abandoned
in the field seem to me a child holding
a tray of empty plates in the cafeteria
of a new school? A stalk of asparagus
bent necklike in the contour of the pan
and I’m mourning the life of a woman
in a novel I’ll never write, reading on a train.
At the protest, when everyone was screaming
at the line of police, one of the cop’s yawned
and I saw, instantly, his whole boyhood.
I wished everyone would just go home
so he could sleep. I once cursed a kid
for pouring gin in a tide pool to see
the anemones closing themselves up,
so sorry did I feel for the anemones,
but I wound up feeling sorrier for the kid.
I used to wake at the snap of the mousetrap
and think all the poor thing wanted
was some peanut butter. Death will be
the only relief for someone sensitive as me.
And death. My God. What a pity…
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