The Hours

Monday's session with the women at the shelter warrants not an essay this week but a sketch, instead.


They'll pay you for a whole hour, she said,

niggers can’t get hard. Hey honey, can I have a ride?

But I was already leaning close to the intercom, announcing who I am and my purpose there.

With the buzz I left her on the street. I asked the women upstairs

Why all the commotion tonight,

Why the extra bodies about.

The nice weather, they said, rolling out their sleeping mats. For the one face I don’t know, whose eyes stay on the floor, I started my speech.

If you believe in the story of Jesus, I said,

You believe God took on a body. Put on skin and bones.

He didn’t have to do that. There's something special about these bodies we’ve been given.

She looked up at me. I led our exercises. This took forty-five minutes, an hour.

I left.

Down the steps and out, I passed the woman again,

and drove by a band of men now encircling her, casting lots for her garments.

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