Enter Home Planet News Poetry of Issue #6                         Page 63
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The lady in 4C

quiet a climb
each night to reach her bed in the
studio converted-dumpster
she lived in sometimes
forgot to shut faucets
flooding the room below
& when the typewriter propped against
the fridge to keep it closed didn’t...
workmen wouldn’t go in there
to fix anything and
tenants feared being trapped
in a fire asphyxiated by gas...
the landlord offered
to pay a cleaning crew to come in
she turned down & later his 10 grand
to move out....

I’d heard all this
but nothing prepared me for
that huge pileup barely
room to walk around
the dirt layered sinks and
loose wall sockets

when I agreed to feed her cat
while she was away
now you see they said
...it was two years later

underground fires no longer burned in lower Manhattan,
we couldn’t smell the smoke across the river
hadn’t caught Bin Laden and it’s not-if
but-when-fear in this Brooklyn building
morphed into one crazy hippie

whose eyes spoke conversations
I could see in eyes
that didn’t always see me

a woman like I am who lives in the 9-5 margins
and isn’t me gets by
singing weekends at villager eateries
reading to a blind woman
what could be found on the street...

the woman in 4 E a civil service worker
with a law degree tied down to safe
& bills said that crazy lady led a more interesting
life than she did
taking off for Ct or N. J. on a whim
as others go to the corner grocery

sometimes I’d see her carrying out
a small garbage bagses
I’m doing what I can
she said
we all are I answered

this woman who’d become
the sheltering wall from
what burns too bright extends
too far what those who’d lived in the
same building for over 30 years felt helpless against:
fear of ever being homeless of losing it
not being able to get out of bed one day
make a cup of coffee when even breathing
might become too much:
fear that their world the only world they know
could abruptly end

  Linda Lerner