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Men
by Maya Angelou


When I was young,
I used to Watch behind the curtains
As men walked up and down the street.
Wino men, old men.
Young men sharp as mustard.
See them.
Men are always Going somewhere.
They knew I was there.
Fifteen Years old and starving for them.
Under my window, they would pause,
Their shoulders high
like the Breasts of a young girl,
Jacket tails slapping over Those behinds,
Men.

One day they hold you
in the Palms of their hands, gentle,
as if you Were the last raw egg in the world.
Then They tighten up. Just a little.
The First squeeze is nice. A quick hug.
Soft into your defenselessness.
A little More.
The hurt begins.
Wrench out a Smile
that slides around the fear.
When the Air disappears,
Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,
Like the head of a kitchen match. Shattered.
It is your juice  That runs down their legs.
Staining their shoes.
When the earth rights itself again,
And taste tries to return to the tongue,
Your body has slammed shut. Forever.
No keys exist.

Then the window draws full upon
Your mind. There, just beyond
The sway of curtains, men walk.
Knowing something.
Going someplace.
But this time, I will simply
Stand and watch.

Maybe.