Damsels Of The Night

Damsels Of The NightAt first I believed
that those 3 a.m. taps on the window
were a delightful miracle,
and I would
let some night creature in
off the boulevard
with a cheerful “hello there!”
and she would respond
with some brisk joke
then she’d move
uneasily about,
looking into the refrigerator,
opening and closing drawers,
making odd conversational observations,
then finally use the
bathroom.

I would sit with one damsel
or another
night after night and
they were all of a similar stripe and
there would be
smoking and
quiet talk
some laughter
but there was seldom any
sex, and then only at
some wild suggestions of
theirs.

Most left before noon
and I’d make ready to sleep
again
thinking of them
sitting there
combing their hair,
talking,
smiling,
gesturing,
swallowing a pill
now and then.

I was never sure
what the damsels really
wanted
or why they came
to visit me
and as their 3 a.m. visits
continued
some of the miracle
wore thin;
in fact, there were times
when the damsels made
stupid and vicious demands
or even threats
as if I was in debt
to them in return
for their very
existence.

They were fair ladies-all
if you didn’t look too close
and if you did
you saw faces
hard and brutal as an
axe,
beyond compassion,
beyond any real interest in men,
beyond their own female natures,
their vulnerability long ago
extinguished.

I tried not to look too close,
only allowing myself to be
superficially aware of their bodies,
their hair,
their clothes,
their smiles,
and even
their colourful street
lingo.

The vulnerable ones
not yet hardened by the streets
(if there ever were any such)
seldom if ever
knocked
and if they did
I was so used to the others
so used to
the women who were
tough to the core
that I didn’t recognize
the difference
and I suppose
if there were any still vulnerable
I discouraged them
with my indifference
while
the shrews grimly hung
on.

Still you know, each time
there was a tap
at the
window
and a strange damsel
entered in a
rush,
with a burst of cheap perfume,
with her
high heels clicking
on the floor,
a bright joke on her red lips
sent to visit by one of her
sisters of the street,
I could not help but
wonder, will this one
be different?

But
within minutes
I’d realize
that this one
was no different
and
I’d go and
play the game
anyhow,
sit and smoke and
listen until
noon
when a reality would enter
that was much harder
more relentless
than they were
and they would leave
before the force of it
became too obvious
those
damsels of the night
and I’d go back to
bed, alone,
gladly,
alone,
thinking
the next poor
son of a bitch
is going to have to
be satisfied with
what just
left.

Charles Bukowski, Damsels Of The Night

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