She speaks of the strangers As the sunlight dims in her pale living room. Her cats flee the approach of her wheelchair As her lover switches on a lamp And parks his wheelchair by the writing desk. Inspecting her small, smooth, curled hands, She says they are disfigured, They attract the stares of strangers, That she has hidden them under shawls And purses set upon her lap. But recently she has freed her hands, Lets them swoop and glide in front of her Like pigeons in front of Sproul Hall On a blustery day. Now that her hands are free, They illuminate her thoughts, Rising, flying, bursting, Fireworks of flesh. She is still assailed by walking strangers And their gape-mouthed questions, “What happened to you?” Their stage-whispered asides, “Isn’t it a shame that such a pretty girl . . . ?” But now she says her voice becomes sharp, Her eyes tense, She waves a deriding arm, And sacrificing poise for dignity, Snarls her contempt for them and their machete words That daily rip her flesh In small, casual murders.