(based on Men at Forty
by Donald Justice)

Women at forty
still wear pigtails
and use roller skates.
They are just unseen.

When they rise early
to prepare the breakfasts
and bag multiple lunches
they pretend to be old.

In the middle of the night,
when small feet flutter into the room
and little bodies crawl into their arms,
they act unafraid.

They often play dress-up,
step into uncomfortably high heels,
paint on smiles and younger faces,
perform on private stages.

Sometimes, but only rarely,
they remember to call home,
and crawl into the arms
of their mothers’ voices.

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