Intimate Strangers

Her ear is now attuned

Voices have become familiar

She can identify

Yells, screams, strident complaints

Laughs or whines by speaker

Echoing night and day

Endlessly around her


Her eyes, even blurred, identify

Individuals by walk or stance

Backs of heads or posture

Unique as fingerprints

Betray their owner at a glance

Known or nameless cohorts

Across a room

Down the hall


Her nose, with every breath

Learns of unwashed bodies

Fetid aura trailed

Behind in the bathroom

Peers’ poor dental hygeine

Furtive smoking habits

Assaults her at the table

At “home,” at “school,” at “work”

Odors, signature specific

Announce their issuer

In advance or retreat


Her brain unwittingly encoded

Unwanted sensory overload

Intimate details of

Strangers with whom she lives

Primitive categorization

Triggered by need to survive

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