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By James Owens

"Just a one-whore town," she jokes
from her barstool, watching the men
watch her, deciding who's on for tonight.
Since the mine closed and the company
pulled out with a wink and a promise,
the bodies are running soft,

and they come to her humbled, a way
she hates to see, no fight left.
She takes a body back home with her
and into the long drift toward morning,
which returns him to an angry wife,
her to empty rooms and hours to fill.

She could leave, and she thinks
of other towns and men with more light
in their eyes, money in their pockets.
But she walks by the bus station
and watches the departures, not boarding,
smiling a little at the taillights

as they blink west and out of sight.
On weekends one or another of the men
drives with her up into the battered hills,
the stripped and gored flats, mined
bare and dusty as Arizona desert,
where they picnic, conduct business,

and she takes the beaten men inside her
like a last clinging to hope,
an offer to possibility of what she has,
as if wishing life would take root,
as if the runnelled and worthless hills
could spring into sweet meadow grass.

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Document last modified on: 08/19/2003

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