when darkness falls
in the garden of good and evil,
the lights flicker and drip to the streets
in a tired glimmer that hardly
keeps the night away, and

the puddles of light against
the gloomy concrete make
a pretty picture that soothes the senses
til it's hard to remember that this
is the wrong side of town at night.

at night, shards of glass and dead cigarette ends litter the street,
discarded by dime-a-dozen girls with numbness
in their eyes and tips tucked in back pockets from
book-ending the casanovas whose humid reek always mingles with
the cheap liquor and vertigo on their breath.

but long after the drifters of the night go their ways
and the last hungry mongrels sate their appetites,
she's there,
fading into the moonlight,
a pale white glow in the darkness.

hey, baby, says a tobacco-stained man,
flicking ashes and leers her way,
bet i can show you a real good time.
he holds up a crumpled bill.
i'll make it worth your while.

he hasn't been the only man to try
to escape the loneliness of the night—
but she won't listen, she won't, because
she's heard it all before and
she's waiting for more than just a physical life.

you find her captivating.
there is something about that vanishing figure
hiding in her circle of quivering light
that attracts the street—and you—
to her.

but—come back in ten years or so, she says, that
heartbreaking smile of love
and loss and innocence peeking out. but
ten years is a long time, you reply.
how will i find you?

i'll wait for you under the streetlight, she says, another
puzzlingly unreadable smile tugging at your soul.
no one else comes there, anyway.
even its artificial glow is too bright
for the denizens of the underworld.

you want to save her.
she is the sort whose eyes beg to be rescued—
but her lips tell a different story as she smiles,
agonizingly slowly, and says that she's already waiting
for the wonderful.

it makes no difference that she has been waiting
for such a long time already.
a promise is a promise, and—though you would save her—
a promise isn't something she will (or is it can?) break
like your heart.