Middle-aged woman puffs a cigarette
right outside the grocery store entrance.
Her dark eyes fall from mine while beads of sweat
trench above furrowed brow. “Spare a few cents?”
she asks under her breath. My muscles tense.
Annoyed, I shake my head; no words are spoken.
I toss a coin in her pail. Still smoking,
She gestures with a nod. The hazy air
hangs, weighted with her stench. As stone eyes glare,
my son begins to cough nearly choking.
Hard days have come to my family; life
has knocked us down. Humiliated, I
beg to survive, you see; even through strife,
we had love but no home. So forgive my
intrusion today as you hurry by.
It’s a nasty habit. You don’t approve.
My kids are gone; last week, the state removed
them. Now, this smoke seems like my only friend.
God took my spouse last year. I can’t pretend
life’s good. Forgive me. I, too, disapprove.
By Rhonda Johnson-Saunders, July 27, 2012
for You Don't Understand Contest (Cyndi MacMillan)