Two women stand in a drizzle
backs against a house. One,
her mouth pressed shut like
a vice, holds an umbrella
bordered with flowers. The other,
her mouth wide open as a hungry
baby bird, stands in the moisture
with only a scarf tied over her head.

They both stare at the same sad
development, whatever it may be,
but only the one holding an umbrella
hears what her good friend says.

Someone may have run a red light.
Someone may have dropped a scrap
of paper on the street. Someone may
be wearing a skirt that's too short
and walking in the wrong kind of way.
Someone may have shouted a word
never to be heard in this kind of town.

Whoever the culprit, whatever
the crime, the women will stand
in the drizzle, one with her mouth
closed, one with her mouth wide open,
and nothing will change and nobody
will stop and by midnight the drizzle
will have licked the filthy street clean.

-Norbert Krapf

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