No one sees me
No one really looks
I’m dressed up, dolled up
to look 21 when I’m only 14.
Primped and pimped
Made to look enticing and exciting.
Someone other than I truly am.
Someone I surely am not!
Don’t know where in the world I am.
Some famous race track town.
My pimp, ‘Mr. K.’ – he wants
us girls to call him that –
is happier than I’ve seen him in weeks.
‘Lots of Money to be made here,
little girls, so let’s get to work.’
His ‘let’s’ means ‘us little girls’
Mr. K doesn’t like it when ‘us girls’
talk to each other but
the one next to me in his van
looks so terrified I say,
‘Hey, my name is Pentimento’
She says, ‘That’s no name I never, ever heard of.’
I say, ‘I named myself. It’s a high-society-sounding
name. Unusual. Men remember it and
ask for me and that makes Mr. K happy
and that’s what keeps us safe and alive.’
I walk alone into the hotel lobby
making myself invisible to
some prying eyes and noticed
by other eyes. I stay in the shadows
hiding behind what’s already there but
visible to those looking for someone like me.
that’s why I call myself Pentimento.
It means something like hiding in plain sight
or artist’s regret or some such…..
Well, I don’t know what regrets
that artist fellow had about the hour
he spent with me last year.
Mostly he talked about art and
how in some old paintings
you can see where the artist changed his mind and
painted over something.
‘Over time,’ he said, ‘the old figure starts to bleed through:
a dog where a little boy now stands, a balloon where
a cloud now floats overhead.’
And I thought heck, that’s me!
My old self is covered over by
this make-up and these god-awful clothes.
But my real, true self is still in here
peeking out and obvious to
someone who is really looking,
who wants to see Me. Lucy.
I’m too young-looking even with
this get-up on to go into
the hotel bar so I stand around the
edges of the lobby avoiding the desk clerk and
I see Mr. K outside holding that new girl
in a vise-grip and yelling without raising his voice one iota.
He shoves her into the hotel’s rotating door.
I’m so intent on watching them I don’t
hear the man come up behind me until
he strokes my shoulder
with his diamond-ringed hand.
‘Hey sugar, what’s your name?’
I turn and plaster my sweetest,
little girl sexy smile on my face.
‘That’s quite the name. What’s it mean?’
‘It means let’s go upstairs and have a good time.’
While we wait until we can get on
an empty elevator car
I put my hand out and say
‘This’ll be $100 right now and more later
if you know what I mean.’
He puts something in my hand
as he backs out the closing elevator door.
It’s 2 $100 bills and a business card.
I read the card 2x as I slide down to the elevator floor.
Finally, finally after 4 long,
lonely, tortured years
someone sees me
I no longer have to be Pentimento.
The card says:
If you are in trouble dial this number ***
We are ‘Eyes Wide Open’
We see You and are here to help You.
We care about You.