Jigsaw men smoke behind cinder block walls,
assemble the pieces of people they’ve been.
Second-hand voices seep under the door
of the coffee-cup room severing “Al” from “Anon”
—Pain extended from pain embraced.
On this side, new converts speak hushed or hurried,
wet-eyed, or wrung dry. Blank lives assume form
with each word offered here, like “he did” and “he said”
or “I told him to go …”
… While the “he” men all speak of the people they’ve been.
The newly birthed “nons” of us pay off our debt,
count each hour we focus on “me,” “I,” not “he.”
Each survivor exposes a skin pink with scars.
Filtered he-air intrudes as we salve open wounds.
“He said,” Kleenex weeps …
“He did,” Lost begins …
… While the men in the next room chant Me, Me, Me, Me!
We women work puzzles, avoid those with eyes
while the jigsaw men talk of the people they’ve been.
First published at Zocalo Public Square, 2012