Hey, it's not a problem," she says, still smiling at me. "If you feel bad about it, pay me in cocoa and I'll do it with you all night if you want."Craig bursts out laughing and Maria looks up at him confused. I groan and press my face into my good hand. Even in college, we're still just a bunch of children sometimes."What's so... eew!" gasps Maria as she finally gets it. Her face turns red as she covers her mouth with her hands to stifle her giggling.
Maria, lonely prostitute on a street of pain,You, at least, hail me and speak to meWhile a thousand others ignore my face.You offer me an hour of love,And your fees are not as costly as most.You are the madonna of the lonely,The first-born daughter in a world of pain.You do not turn fat men aside,Or trample on the stuttering, shy ones,You are the meadow where desperate menCan find a moment's comfort.Men have paid more to their wivesTo know a bit of peaceAnd could not walk away without the guiltThat masquerades as love.You do not bind them, lovely Maria, you comfort themAnd bid them return. Your body is more Christian than the Bishop'sWhose gloved hand cannot feel the dropping of my blood.Your passion is as genuine as most,Your caring as real!But you, Maria, sacred whore on the endless pavement of pain,You, whose virginity each man may make his ownWithout paying ought but your fee,You who know nothing of virgin births and immaculate conceptions,You who touch man's flesh and caress a stranger,Who warm his bed to bring his aching skin alive,You make more sense than stock markets and football gamesWhere sad men beg for virility.You offer yourself for a fee--and who offers himself for less?At times you are cruel and demanding--harsh and insensitive,At times you are shrewd and deceptive--grasping and hollow.The wonder is that at times you are gentle and concerned,Warm and loving.You deserve more respect than nuns who hide their sex for eternal love;Your fees are not so high, nor your prejudice so virtuous.You deserve more laurels than the self-pitying mother of many children,And your fee is not as costly as most.Man comes to you when his bed is filled with brass and emptiness,When liquor has dulled his sense enoughTo know his need of you.He will come in fantasy and despair, Maria,And leave without apologies.He will come in loneliness--and perhapsLeave in loneliness as well.But you give him more than soldiers who win medals and pensions,More than priests who offer absolutionAnd sweet-smelling ritual,More than friends who anticipate his deathOr challenge his life,And your fee is not as costly as most.You admit that your love is for a fee,Few women can be as honest.There are monuments to statesmen who gave nothing to anyoneExcept their hungry ego,Monuments to mothers who turned their childrenInto starving, anxious bodies,Monuments to Lady Liberty who makes poor men prisoners.I would erect a monument for you--who give more than most--And for a meager fee.Among the lonely, you are perhaps the loneliest of all,You come so close to loveBut it eludes youWhile proper women march to church and fantasizeIn the silence of their rooms,While lonely women take their husbands' armsTo hold them on life's surface,While chattering women fill their closets with clothes andTheir lips with lies,You offer love for a fee--which is not as costly as most--And remain a lonely prostitute on a street of pain.You are not immoral, little Maria, only tired and afraid,But you are not as hollow as the police who pursue you,The politicians who jail you, the pharisees who scorn you.You give what you promise--take your paltry fee--andWander on the endless, aching pavements of pain.You know more of universal love than the nations who thrive on war,More than the churches whose dogmas are private vendettas made sacred,More than the tall buildings and sprawling factoriesWhere men wear chains.You are a lonely prostitute who speaks to me as I pass,And I smile at you because I am a lonely man.
If your love for […] wants to do something now, then its work and task is this: to catch up with what it has missed. For it has failed to see whither this person has gone, it has failed to accompany her in her broadest development, it has failed to spread itself out over the new distances this person embraces, and it hasn’t ceased looking for her at a certain point in her growth, it wants obstinately to hold fast to a definite beauty beyond which she has passed, instead of persevering, confident of new shared beauties to come.”—from letter to Paula Modersohn-Becker Bremen (February 12, 1902)