She is all used up, worn to nothing by the harshness of life,
go ahead and talk to her about dreams
with your idealistic cosseted view of the world,
then watch her step outside to barter her hopes
in exchange for so much poisonous escape.
She believes herself loved, he waits for her
in the next room, listening closely for her distress
so that he can intervene when she needs saving,
they trade on household chores, he washes the dishes,
buys the drugs, she spreads her legs and mops the floors.
She smiles emptily into the distance, spaced and absent
but for rare moments of shattering reality
when she talks about the remembrance of hands on her skin,
each moment of desperate surrender breaking her apart,
etched with terrible clarity on her body and heart.
We make her a cautionary tale, another statistic
to use for advocacy and funding,
when she was a child she dreamt of what she would be,
now she is wrecked, vanishing into the footnotes,
filed away with the rest of the detritus.
Brash, brazen and angry, she views the world with a cynical pragmatism
that makes mockery of our wishing wells,
all of our desultory interventions meaningless
in the face of bone weary despair, a broken life,
an unfortunate contemporary human sacrifice.