I work at a shelter for women
who are victims of
domestic violence.
Most of them need assistance
either after the abuser
took the last bit of teeth
they had left
or they needed it before
any of the mess
began.
Things that are obvious:

housing subsidies, bus vouchers,
food stamps and
child support.
Also, bulk Similac,
gas assistance,
a scoop or two of
laundry detergent,
a sturdy ear to grab onto,
God,
a bed, or
somewhere in between.

They all have cell phones, and most
are smartphones.
Some of them are outdated
but they still get YouTube.
They have Instagram.
They get their hair done sometimes.
They get their kids things:
lollipops, squirt guns in
August, video games to entertain
them at lunch when they are
practicing peaceful camraderie
with the other women’s children.
They wear platform wedges and lipstick
to the cookouts.

People tell them if they are struggling so much
they shouldn’t have
nice things.
They shouldn’t have
anything.
They should save everything for the baby.
They should save everything for the apartment.
They should sell some stuff, stop going to
the salon, downgrade that data plan.
They should not lie to staff about
whereabouts.
They should not steal tampons from the
closet.
They should not worry about whether
or not it is too hot
for locks, or their hair
at all.
And they should not ask for extras
from the male staff  in those
skimpy tank tops.

They should have known.
They should have known
better.

They have an ipod and
free bread
and razor sharp nails
and a half-finished smile.
They have a kid that looks like their
bruised past who might grow to
be someone else’s dad.
People are concerned about their
foul mouths near the kitchen,
and I am concerned
about everything
hidden.

“nice things”

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