Aren't We All?

Her name is Jasmine, the former femme fatale
who, only ten years ago
was said to resemble
Rita Hayworth in her prime.
But now her youthful beauty
has withered like that of a
wilted flower.
Oh, she still has an elegance
and an attractiveness but it is
the attractiveness of middle age.
Thus, she must rely on raw ambition
and the knowledge she has gleaned
from books to survive.
Yes, she has stepped out of "The Game,"
remade herself
and begun her climb.
But luck is on her side.
Because Jasmine, at least,
is no longer numbered
among the rising millions in America.
And for her, those sounds-
the cacophany of voices
desperate and forlorn-
the clang of metal upon metal,
all belong to the past,
to that era that she has gratefully
left behind.
And so, the " lady" bears her memories
of devastation and degradation
with stoic grace,
seemingly they haven't exacted such
a heavy toll
and her genteel speech
and fashionable clothing
don't betray the secrets
of those dark chapters
of a not so distant past.
Now, she even rubs elbows
with those of the highest social echelons
and is regarded by them as peer and equal,
as she chats amicably with executives
and charms academics with her wit.
Yes, she is becoming mainstream,
mingling unsuspected with the kind
she once regarded with scorn,
members of the " uppity" establishment.
But sometimes does the street
still show in her eyes?
And does she emit an aura
of a strange netherworld
populated only by the damned?
And she wonders if the wings
of a Phoenix rising
still show smudges
of the ash heap?
She asks also,
" Who am I"?
Weird conglomeration?
Enigmatic paradox?
But then,
isn't the answer,
aren't we all?

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