“I’ve learned to be very careful
about language. Some words
are dangerous for them.”

“Like what?” I ask idly, imagining
those rusty hacksaws buried deep
in the collective reptile brain: Bitch. Nigger. Cunt.

She is pale and pretty,
with a heart-shaped face
and four children at home.

“Oh, like stream,” she answers, blinking.
“Some of these women are locked up for life.
They’re never going to see a stream again.”

We breathe together then, and the green word
exhales its mist in the air between us,
moss-soft, rich with ferns, slippery, life-giving.