Tender

Don’t be fooled: these are no
bluebloods. They’re the ones
who’ll never be happy no matter
what they get, those who complain
about every little thing—

They turn up in the middle of the night,
always in the middle of the night
(did it ever occur to you to ask why
always in the middle of the night?):
a knock on the door— and did I forget

to mention a thunderstorm? Yes,
rain pouring; mud thick as cake
batter, the road to town in-
distinguishable from gully
or ditch. So you take

the poor drenched thing in, offer
a bath, warm clothes, soup by the fire,
a place to sleep. Not just any bed,
the one with mattresses stacked
higher than a Jenga

tower; down-filled and fluffy,
pancake after pancake spongy
and sweet, plump with shams
and duvets. And the next day?
Nothing but distress,

moaning about bruises
and pains: the tossing
and turning, the hard
dried pea or tooth
of gravel,

the stone eternally stuck
in the craw— Don’t fall
for it! Don’t think for one
moment some lives are more
tender than others.

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