The rights of those accused

From curiosity, from unwarranted discipline,
or pressing need— I’ve learned that I too have
the right to speak and ask; and more, expect. That this,
too, is my due. Our second landlord came to check on
“the facilities,” moving from room to room, talking about
the previous tenant, a lady (white) who lived alone but was
“extremely fastidious” about cleanliness. I looked straight
at him but did not then know how to retort, did not say,
Why did we have to scour a quarter inch of dust and oily
residue from the top of the fridge and behind each radiator
if the previous tenant was really all he made her out to be?
When our rent check was late because of a postal holiday, he
sent someone to tape a warning on our door: as though we’d
broken the law, just by being “the kind of people” we were.

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