Skylight by Natalie Shapero

YOU DESERVE IT was what she said

when I called a cab at 10 p.m.
instead of hopping the 89 bus, which lets off
six blocks from my place – YOU

DESERVE IT, as though it were a slice
of key lime pie and I’d spent the day itemising
deductions or muscling the grease

stains off of the oven. This sheet

of panic in the oblate city,
apprehension of my weakness in the hurtling

dark, this no more walking alone –

THIS, I wanted to say, I DON’T
DESERVE, but then it occurred to me what

if I do – is this the punishment
for what I’ve done?

I’ve left trash on Wingaersheek Beach.
I’ve sprawled across two seats.
I’ve ridiculed a dying woman for overstating
the poverty of her childhood.

Once, while friends were traveling, I stayed
weeks at their house and became
enthralled with the skylight

above their shower – how I could

stand unclothed and watch the white rays
and low planes and remain
unseen. In this world of need, I wanted

one more than anything. I’m so sorry