In street clothes, she is a soup-kitchen
volunteer, warm meal server, invisible
one of the low ranking ostiaries, porters
says if we love one person we must love
the unhoused mentally ill as well as the
conscripted, convicted adults they become
mouths aching open into tortured toothless
yawns as they hand her their bowls to fill
with chicken noodle soup, crustless bread

she is a seasoned veteran, knows what it
feels like to be disregarded, to be locked
out in cold night rain clutching an empty
sauterne bottle, she too has been disregarded
crouched into a fetal position hiding behind
dumpsters on feces-puddled streets, begging
her back pressed and slipping against a wall
of slime, desperate to be missed enough for
someone who cares to come looking for her
find her, feed her, whisper I’m here you are
safe, I love you

you don’t see her, not all heroes wear capes
she blends in, cares for the beast as well as
those thrown to the beast, when asked for all
her strength she gives it, she leaves her own
rental room of wallpaper pimply with smashed
roaches, and gives what she can and when
asked again, she gives again, more.

When I Was Young And Old