A Woman Like Me
The woman who sits in the square handing out oranges
Is the woman who combs the hair of Jesus
In the Basilica. The woman I would be
If I were not selfish and an unbeliever.
This woman arranges gladiolas on the altar
For every funeral. She is happy to think
Of the risen in the arms of the Blessed Mother.
She crosses herself with holy water
From the shrine at Lourdes.
I am the woman who eats the oranges, peel and all.
Who scoffs at those who want to live forever
In the sublime light of the Host.
I want morphine dreams and a book of poetry.
I don’t want hope or faith or the charity
Of women with baskets of roses,
Of women who offer cheese to the poor,
Of women who milk the moon for stories
That I can’t witness. What I give
Is what I don’t want—my mother’s costume jewelry,
The tiresome novel I couldn’t finish.
To be an imperfect woman is a sorrow.
Even a woman like me will admit
To a small envy and a larger rejection.
Even a woman, thin with grief, will sit
In the dark and be lonely.