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"Shepherd Girl" by Tiffany Troy

In a perfect world, I can hand in my resignation letter

and call it quits.

In this world, I squeeze my breasts for milk

before collapsing from fatigue

the way some clients return overseas

because they could no longer afford to live in Flushing.

I have no home but here,

and best vibes only cannot help me much

when they want to hang me upon the stilts for show.

I feel cynicism in the photos of mansions

you are so eager to show me,

flipping through your phone.

O mi amor, I want to say, kissing your ears,

don’t be naive, your home is right here,

the way I want to lie down,

dampening my ankles with wet sand.

At night, when I can no longer believe in that toxic

positivity when I’ve poured all my heart in

and look where it’s gotten me,

I wonder if I wear the mask

and smile in this redemption arc,

will I truly be saved, and if so, whether I won’t

become a shell imprint of my former self,

and be unable to love?

Tiffany Troy is a Critic, Translator, and Poet

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