Those people who talk
to strangers
who make eye contact
with absolutely anyone –

their souls have a lid
perhaps or lashes
some form of protection
because most people

are not to be trusted
and how do they cope
with the brightness
when they are?

A note from Lorraine Mariner on her poem:

My fellow Picador poet Annie Freud invited me to write some poems in response to an exhibition of portraits by American artist Alice Neel called 'Painted Truths'. Neel painted many of her subjects without eyelashes and I was really struck by how vulnerable that made them appear. I’m not very good at small talk and I get a bit envious of people who can happily chat to someone knowing that in ten minutes they’ll never see them again, and that was the poem’s starting point. At the time of writing I was also upset with someone who’d let me down, so looking at the poem again now I’m surprised that it’s actually quite hopeful.

'Strangers' is published in There Will Be No More Nonsense

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