Miriam M. Kotzin

I listen to a shameless harridan
whose voice rings out in the streets.
Close behind me, at my side,
she continues her familiar harangue.
I am startled by her knowledge
of my secrets. I notice
respectable citizens turning to stare;
I try to look them in the eye,
hoping to enlist sympathy
in freeing me from this
fishwife who follows me
shameless through the streets.
They will not meet my gaze.

Is it hopeless to attempt to shake
myself free? I catch sight
of myself in a shop window.
The fishwife continues to rave.
Even in this distorted reflection
my agitation is obvious.

I do not choose to stare her down.
Nothing good can come from looking
a madwoman in the face.

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