Whore

by: Elynia Mabanglo
translated by Pia Arboleda and Jorge Andrada


This is where you all left me,
where you all could come back for me
in the dark, the hidden corners, at tables
grimy with the stench of beer, ash,
foul breath and spit,
finger food and cheap perfume.
I am faithful to parks and parking lots
one love on the other side of the street.

I collect pasts,
remembrances best forgotten;
I gather discarded youth,
masked old age,
with a few kisses and gropes,
a few gentle touches and sex,
and listening,
much listening.

They have different faces:
my father, my son, my brother, my friend,
my husband.
They all offer to marry me-
in secrecy, in the open,
fleeting, enduring.
I merely watch them
desirous, sad, lonely,
anxious, afraid, exasperated,
as I rot,
dry up,
turn to ash,
without insurance, medicine,
retirement plan
or funeral and burial arrangements.
Poked at though disgusted,
they force me to condemn
my tumultuous past and my blurry future-
one love on the other side of the street.

One love on the other side of the street.
They persistently offer to marry me:
Me and my aspirations-
humble and imperfect:
a home, a clean bed,
food on the table, money in my pocket.
Still they are avaricious and insatiable,
pegging a price even on my smile.
I am a mine in the distance:
with gold on my hips,
a ripe womb.
I can swim the darkness
and race with time.
Am I so different from everyone else?
One love on the other side of the street.

1986