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The Lady in Red

words Breah Zaman

Illustration Sheku Nafisi


Her lips are cracked, her hair is knotted, and her heart is burnt

She lurks in the shadows, smoking—a habit recently learnt

She has no place to call home

Her family and origins left back in Rome

She was once happy, loved, and cared for

Diamonds, velvet, and suede she once wore

Now, in her eyes you can see the entire shore

She is humble and of good character

She’ll deeply smile when your eyes suddenly meet

So very kind, but she still lives on the street

That makes her “unwanted,” “unneeded,” “unworthy,”

She’s not worth helping they say, “I hope she sees a better day.”

Drugs ruined her life they believe

Yet the only one she’s ever taken is ‘Aleve’

She roams the street without a penny to spare

Dating a boy that just doesn’t care

She wears a long red sweatshirt

Not showing that she’s been hurt

Boy, what a time to live

Too caught up—they forget to give

I notice her fingernails painted a smooth red

It’s the color of the devil my mother once said

Yet, I think she looks more like J-Lo

Just yesterday, I swear I saw her halo

I know damn well she can play a beautiful song

She has a musician’s fingers—bony and long

I look at her and can’t help but wonder, where did it all go wrong?

There’s something each of us can do

But you don’t care—thankful its not you

I pass by stores and catch my reflection

Smash!—I’m hit with a perception

Things really happen in a flash

Stay awak— your life too could crash

We all wish for things to get better

For the good things to just stay forever

If that was you …your ideal, people scurry and flee?

Walk right by, pretend they didn’t see?

The lady in red,

She’s quite a sight to see

Look. Just take a look.

“Oh she has no more importance than the scab on my knee!”

But—isn’t she just like you and me?