shells.

i am a social worker.
i work in a shelter.
i have learned the language
of boundaries and tough love
but what they do not teach you
is how to pack up the left behinds.
the clothes and the shoes and the papers,
shells of people who have come and left.
the dress that someone wore when
they finally found a job.
the broken sneakers,
shoved in a corner
that have seen more feet
than a podiatrist on wednesday.
the packets of ibuprofen,
that never take away the ache
of children in dss custody.
hair ties, tank tops, journals,
underwear, calendars, ripped pages
with dates and phone numbers
scattered, here and there,
smudged with fingerprints
made from dirt and hope and coffee.
garbage bags and name tags,
shoved into a hallway
that goes nowhere.

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