Once I lived in a
village without strangers.

Every path I took,
each way I went

known faces frowned or smiled,
known voices spoke,

known gestures formed
their statements on the air,

and yet there was, I knew,
a secret life

scurrying within
familiar walls,

peering out from long-known
windows, hiding

darkly where each usual
corner turned,

but now I have no
sense of this. Encountering

strangers everywhere I go,
I grow

discomfited to feel they
have no secrets

they must hide from
knowing eyes and smiles

and long-familiar usages;
they are

themselves the secrets,
and that's not the same.

Blindly, they stare and
blindly I walk on.

by Hannah Smith

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