(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014 / )


When I was young, I used to
Watch behind the curtains
As men walked up and down the street. Wino men, old men.
Young men sharp as mustard.
See them. Men are always
Going somewhere.
They knew I was there. Fifteen
Years old and starving for them.
Under my window, they would pauses,
Their shoulders high like the
Breasts of a young girl,
Jacket tails slapping over
Those behinds,

One day they hold you in the
Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you
Were the last raw egg in the world. Then
They tighten up. Just a little. The
First squeeze is nice. A quick hug.
Soft into your defenselessness. A little
More. The hurt begins. Wrench out a
Smile that slides around the fear. When the
Air disappears,
Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,
Like the head of a kitchen match. Shattered.
It is your juice
That runs down their legs. Staining their shoes.
When the earth rights itself again,
And taste tries to return to the tongue,
Your body has slammed shut. Forever.
No keys exist.

Then the window draws full upon
Your mind. There, just beyond
The sway of curtains, men walk.
Knowing something.
Going someplace.
But this time, I will simply
Stand and watch.


by Maya Angelou

Comments (79)

The uncontrollable boiling rage of desire and love within an adolescent girl neatly scribbled to unleash the bursting feelings within her. The pain of being caged in a house smashing her yearn of robbing shoulders with the men she sees through her window forces her to shade her tears in writings like all scholars do.
There are Men and Men. I had been 15 too, but entirely another world. My beloved Mum was always keeping me in her eyesight. I understand the world of the great poetess when she was 15 years of age. So eerie it seems. Most touching poetry I ever read and this poem haunts me in a certain way. I must admit most exciting. Congrats!
Maybe, there is more when she walks outt the door. This is an exemplar for all aspiring poets.
The subject is obvious, its about being assaulted, in the beginning her feelings were those of youthful interest, she had an ideal of what men where, then when she came into contact with one, that illusion was horribly shattered and she saw right through the veneer. A good example to use for the me to age.
The perceptions of a young girl of 15 about men and the horrible changes in it due to the experiences given by some of them subsequently have been boldly and forcefully narrated. Well deserved modern poem of the Day.
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