Last stanza of poem: I can't believe that that repetition, "evaded -
evading," evaded me after God knows how many rereadings ... Sorry!!
"Evading the knives" changed to "blunting." Only change.
For my part, I walked
to work years ago
through a slum. The city
around it was crowded and
rich; a slum must
be dense and intense to survive
the need of the rich for condos. The only
legal retail was bars; the rest
was crack and low-rent sex-workers. But
over the vomit, around
the dead and moaning stepped each day
three Vietnamese girls
on their way to school, where they somehow
evaded the ones who would rape them for reading,
found books to read and teachers
who taught them after hours
blunting the knives of the others.
The girls were always
neat. One expected
the Sunday human-interest parts
of the paper to discover them,
so that suburbanites
could find them a private school and pay tuition.
I don't know if they
escaped. If they did,
it would mean little to a statistician.