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An Ongoing Dilemma—Barbara grapples with uncertainty

An Ongoing Dilemma — Barbara grapples with uncertainty

The world — at least New York City, where I was — seemed to be falling apart when I met Rochelle in 1991. This scared me, and for If I’m Talking, Why Aren’t You Listening, the performance piece that brought the two of us together, I wrote this poem. Has anything happened since then to make the world any less scary? I’m not sure.

I’m not sure
about the Lincoln Tunnel,
a tile here,
tile there picked
clean off the wall.

I’m not sure about
the first glass of water
you get in that
too busy coffee shop
on the corner of
Fifth and Second.
It comes straight
to your table
from that cloudy
glass and lunch
tray tower
that’s been standing
behind the counter
all day.

I’m not sure
about taking
the Times
off the top
of the stack
outside the newsstand.

I’m not sure
just how clean
the toilet is in a
house where every
one is so organic
they don’t use
Lestoil to wash the floor.
But I’m really not sure
when I step down
the sidewalk
will meet my feet.

I’m not sure.
I’ve got a history
in this city.