WHAT IT USED TO BE by karen marie christa minns

It is
The man on the Greyhound Bus
who snarls at me
when I take a seat by the window.
My Levis are torn at the knees,
My hair is short,
My dark glasses shield the tears forming in each eye.
The man on the Greyhound Bus
who packs all he owns   into one pocket.
Whose shoes are broken   whose face is broken
Whose mouth curls like a claw
And rips me open with a syllable:
This is the man I must live with.
I carry him   like a scar  I can’t forget.
It is the woman
Who rolls down her window at the red light.
Who leans on her horn and glares
at two friends  as they cross  in front of her.
They’re holding each other around the waist;
They’re smiling in the Venice sun between the buildings.
They pretend she is not screaming,
Is not blasting her rage and aiming it at them.
They keep walking
but their fingers are knots   and they   pretend.
It is the woman
Who will not leave her husband, who loves another woman;
who sleeps and slinks and saps the life from another woman
But will not leave.
“It’s more than the children,” she says getting up from the bed.
Picking her jeans from the floor   it’s more.
It is the Mother I couldn’t tell,
the family I hid from,
the incomplete sentences;  the nights alone
in a city three thousand miles from anyone I loved.
It is having no words in a country of verbs,      no lines
to tell you  how it is   with me.
It is constant fear,  surveillance,  the cops,
low pay, no pay, art
or crummy jobs.
It is the city.
It is the ecstasy      pushed down;
concentrate,    condensed into explosion:  a bomb.
It is everything   I own   or care for.
It is never being able to say,  ” The Joy.”
The Joy.
 It is touching God.
It is always  paying.