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    -for lucille clifton

    I opened a bank account
    when I was nine years old
    I closed it when I was eighteen
    I gave them every penny that I'd saved
    and they gave my blood
    and my urine
    a number
    now I'm sitting in this waiting room
    playing with the toys
    and I am here to exercise
    my freedom of choice
    I passed their handheld signs
    went through their picket lines
    they gathered when they saw me coming
    they shouted when they saw me cross
    I said why don't you go home
    just leave me alone
    I'm just another woman lost
    you are like fish in the water
    who don't know that they are wet
    as far as I can tell
    the world isn't perfect yet
    his bored eyes were obscene
    on his denim thighs a magazine
    I wish he'd never come here with me
    in fact I wish he'd never come near me
    I wish his shoulder
    wasn't touching mine
    I am growing older
    waiting in this line
    some of lifes best lessons
    are learned at the worst times
    under the fierce flourescent
    she offered her hand for me to hold
    she offered stability and calm
    and I was crushing her palm
    through the pinch pull wincing
    my smile unconvincing
    on that sterile battlefield that sees
    only casualties
    never heros
    my heart hit absolute zero
    Lucille, your voice still sounds in me
    mine was a relatively easy tragedy
    now the profile of our country
    looks a little less hard nosed
    but that picket line persisted
    and that clinic's since been closed
    they keep pounding their fists on reality
    hoping it will break
    but I don't think there's a one of us
    leads a life free of mistakes

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