Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Femmes de Maison
The visitor poked his head through the door
He looked unsure
Perhaps…He had the wrong address?
No, they always knew.
He nodded in greeting
(I quenched a stiff laugh)
as he shuffled into my one-room business and home.
A first visit?
Maybe. I never keep record of name or face.
His guilt caught my attention
as it dragged in his wake
and I wondered why he had come.
I prepared mechanically.
No words needed, no conversation
not even price talk – they always knew beforehand,
even he. As he arranged himself
I wondered still why he came.
As the sweat beaded on his forehead
and his back stiffened in bittersweet release,
I wondered like never before.
He arose and dipped into his pocket
He glanced at me as he extracted
the gold band amidst naira notes.
He turned toward the door
and I knew he would be back,
his guilt halved and his eyes darker.
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons