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"Clothe the Naked"

Published:
January 9, 2024
April 8, 2019
Read this poem titled "Clothe the Naked" about the speaker's encounter with the homeless on a street side.|Read this poem titled "Clothe the Naked" about the speaker's encounter with the homeless on a street side.|"Clothe the Naked"

"Clothe the Naked"

I try not to stare.Your vulnerability makes mevulnerable.Your nakedness reminds methat under my dress,matching bra and panties,is a body I try to hide,a body of secrets. You scrub the bar over your chest,suds trickle over ribs,the fire hydrant spraying waterfor your makeshift shower,five feet from my car. I am both intruderand victim,exposedand in the showerwith you –I want to help you,wash you clean,yet your nakednessmakes meuncomfortableas if I too am nakedon edge of the E Street Expressway. I want to leave my car,hold up a blanket,shield you from eyes, tryingnot to see— Am I shielding you?Or am I shielding us? Our bodies uncomfortablewith our own nakedness,staring at buildings, screens,the bumper in front of uswilling the red to green— so once you fade into distancewe can forgetyou live in tentsunder the E Street Expressway—forgetyou bathe with watersiphoned from a fire hydrant,forgetyou are a person. We, your brothers and sisters,deny our own bodyas we denythe existenceof you.

Creators:
Barbara Lisette
Published:
January 9, 2024
April 8, 2019
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