“An Evening Out” by Erin Ratigan

Careful not to wear those shoes or stumble as you go.
But still, the light is fading and your pace must never slow.
You thought ahead and parked your car where you might spot the glow,
beneath a burning light post, where your isolation shows.
The silence isn’t quite as frightening as what lurks below,
And yes, you’re friends, but it might happen. You just never know.


You chose your clothes strategically, so no one could accuse
you of asking someone to take from you what you have yet to lose.


Of course, they could still do it, which is why you have your mace.
You’ve already imagined how to aim for someone’s face.
Your father asked you where you were going, and “Where was this place?”
You’ve said it all before, you didn’t plan to be too late.


You check behind you shoulder and behind the driver’s seat.
Your keys between your fingers hurt, but that’s all obsolete,
for now you’re close enough to finally rest your aching feet.
Just quickly get inside so you’re no longer on the street.


Lock the doors at once. Don’t take your time, just get inside.
You’re not quite safe until you’re in a place where you can hide.


With music playing you look and see the number on the card,
that somebody had slipped to you while sitting at the bar.
You’d been with friends, and all made sure not to wonder too far.
At 22 you’ve long since stopped your wishing on a star.


And at the light, a person in the car beside you frowns
He’s gesturing from his window that you let your window down.

He hollers, “Hunny, you’d be prettier if you smiled, now.”
His face is serious, waiting, but you just can’t make a sound.


He shouts again, but you ignore him, facial features wooden.
Yes, this is what it looks like, everyday, to be a woman.