The Slave across the Street by Mark Curtis

Maybe you’ve glimpsed me through the glass,
this young girl sat at this window
with its invisible bars
but you’ve never truly seen me
not as I see you, watching you going
about your life; part of a world I am denied.
Have you not noticed the visitors to this house
so close to yours, all men,
and wondered at their frequency and number?
I wish so hard for you to look at last
with knowledge and understanding,
having put two and two together.
You never do.
So this is what you don’t see, don’t hear:
me sobbing nightly into my pillow
until finally sleep comes and floats me away
on the dampness of my wasted tears,
the screams I too often find stuck in my throat
when I wake to another day of brutality and abuse.
This also hidden from your eyes
behind closed doors:
the blood and vomit that stain my pain
into this bed alongside the remnants
of their pleasure. The drugs
and alcohol they ply me with
to keep me pliable and less likely to fight
though some of them like me to fight.
Watching you again, suppressing
the sudden urge to smash fist through
the barrier between us and call to you;
trembling at potential repercussions.
I send instead a silent plea, a prayer your way:
“Hear me. See me. Know me.
 Free me. Save me. Please care,
 please care, please care for me.”
I am not nothing. I am not no one.
No matter what they would have me believe.
I am your neighbour,
the slave across the street. Your street.
Could be any street.
There are many like me but I am so alone
watching you, the world I yearn for.
The freedom and purpose in your walk
so alien, so distant despite your closeness,
you might as well be a god
and like a god you close your ears,
hunch your shoulders in a shrug
of ignorance (can you feel its bliss?),
and walk away, never feeling the weight
of all my hope you take with you.
Hope light as a feather. Fragile, precious,

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